Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another preview of 101 Hanover Avenue

This time it's the "Red Rooms" version, almost finished (I'm going to touch up the wallpaper upstairs before I pack it up).

The insert photo is of the back room downstairs (very suitable to be a dining room or study). This version is actually less prims than the "House of Blues" version because it uses a texture that includes wainscotting in the back room instead of using additional prims for it. The "Red Rooms" version will come in under 100 prims!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Teaser - 101 Hanover Avenue

Well, I am finally ready to talk about the project that I've been working on!

For a long time, I wasn't ready to talk about it. At some points during the development of this project, I've been unsure if I was up to the task of finishing it! You see, I am new to building in Second Life.

About three months ago, I started shopping for Fall/Halloween themed items. I was contemplating setting up a haunted house (which of course fell by the wayside as this project unfolded). I had in mind some kind of elegant house that was somewhat goth in inspiration/color but not extremely Halloween-ish (ie, not garish or run-down). Also, my requirements were that the house be low-prim (about 130 prims or less) and fit on a 1024 lot. And I did not want to pay more than $600L for this house.

I quickly discovered that NO ONE in SL appeared to be selling the kind of house I was looking for. The houses that came close were either much higher prim, extremely low quality, or very expensive.

So that's when the idea for Hanover Ave Homes came to me.

Hanover Avenue Homes are going to be low prim houses inspired by restored old "city houses" found in many East Coast U.S. cities. Typically these are "town" or "row" houses with little space in between them, so there may be little to no windows on the sides of the houses.

The style is not goth or Victorian or Edwardian, or city-chic, but a sophisticated, eclectic combination of all of these. My younger daughter (who is the family stylestia) calls the style "elegant."

In Second Life, I have greatly appreciated a number of the shabby chic home designers who have developed their houses as both modestly priced and low prim, such as Modest House. It is my goal to keep my houses modestly priced and low prim as well.

The first house series to be released is going to be 101 Hanover Ave. This house will be available in 3 to 4 color-themed versions and will be about 100 to 105 prims (depending on the specific house in the series). This house has three stories and 5 rooms - two each on the first and second floors, and a loft in the attic. The first floor has a front porch and a double door; the second floor has french doors and a small balcony. The house fits easily into a square or oblong 1024 lot, with dimensions of about 18 x 22.

101 Hanover Ave - House of Blues is finished and almost ready to go onto the Second Life Marketplace (formerly XStreetSL). I am currently working on 101 Hanover Ave - Red Rooms. The current plans are for a fall-colored version and a neutral-colored version to follow shortly.

103 Hanover Ave is planned to feature a different interior layout, a 2 story front porch, and a brick exterior, but still fall into the same general size and prim range.

I also have plans for a whimsical themed house that won't necessarily "fit" into the main line but will be sold under the same brand.

Right now I have no plans to open a physical store in SL...content creation is taking up most of my SL time budget, and blogging the rest of that time! However, should you be interested in a footprint or seeing one of the houses rezzed in-world, please contact me (Horatia Abonwood) in SL.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My cozy space

I originally started building this set for the SL Home & Garden Group Photo Contest, but I ran out of time, had inventory issues*...and I realized during the process that I'm not ready to enter photo contests yet. Take a look over at Flicker at some of the wonderful entries, though. You'll get lots of ideas!

Most of these home furnishings are from What Next and LISP Bazaar.

From WhatNext: Sofa (11 prims), Heart Picture (2 prims), Fireplace and Candles (9 prims), Bottom Rug (2 prims), Live Laugh Love print (4 prims). From LISP: Mirror (3 prims), Herb Plaque (4 prims), Herb Planter (9 prims), plant to right of fireplace (9 prims).

Blue Screen from Turnips Homes & Stuff (7 prims).

Pictures taken in: Modest House Hummingbird Cottage.

*BEWARE of returning objects to your inventory through the World > Place Profile > About Land >  Objects > Return button. I've lost a lot of my home furnishings inventory in the last couple of months, and I suspect it is because of relying on this function when I want to start over with a new set or house.

Friday, September 3, 2010

If you want a new house, or think you might want one in the future...

Two great sales going on right now. If you're looking for a new house, or even if you're a Linden Home Owner contemplating taking the next step into land owning, you really should check out these deals.

First, ALL prefabs at Modest House are discounted right now. Some are 5% off, some are 25% off, and some 75% off. Some of the the models are being retired after the sale.

For those who aren't familiar with Modest House, the name is rather descriptive of the style. Typically, the houses are fairly low prim (most around 50-120 prims) and will fit on smaller lots (1024 and some possibly on 512). There are also some skyboxes. The style tends toward Shabby Chic, and the textures used tend to be very nice.

These are very recent releases; a look over at the Modest House blog reveals that most were released in the last 9 months.

The second prefab sale of note is over at the new location for MotoBene! at the brand new Hide and Seek Sim. There's a 50% off sale on all prefabs in celebration of the grand opening. This applies to houses like the Harwich Colonial and the Harwich Mini Colonial, as well as to skyboxes and other structures. I'd show you some pictures, but unfortunately I can't get to the pictures at the Moto Bene! blog right now (which hasn't been updated with the new SLURL yet). If you take a look at the archives at the blog (and Flickr isn't blocked where you're at right now!), you'll find pictures of several of the structures on sale now. MotoBene! prefabs also tend to be designed in a shabby chic style.

In addition, there is a sim-wide hunt going on to celebrate the Hide and Seek sim grand opening (look for ants!). Other stores on the sim include Boom, AtomicBambi, Awesome Blossom, Coeur, Musim, and Olive Juice. Just from what I've seen so far, I can tell you that the hunt prizes look really good!  Come on out, brave the lag!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hey, Linden Labs...want to make SL fast, easy and fun? Then tackle inventory!

(reposted from Horatia's Hopping and Shopping, because this is significant here as well)!

It seems like these days I spend most of my time in Second Life attempting to organize and sift through inventory…and admittedly, I am loosing patience with not being able to get better control over it. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest weaknesses of Second Life This issue is so frustrating that many SL users just give up, create a new alt avatar, and start fresh. The existing inventory management (or lack thereof) is also a frustration for new users.
If I was Phillip Linden, I would consider this issue one of the greatest barriers to making Second Life “fast, easy and fun.” I would be directing my development teams to look at different ways of organizing user content – from the desktops of operating systems, to software like iTunes, to Content Management Systems, and figure out…what are we missing here? What can we give the end user that would make managing their inventory easier? What can we build into the software to make the ongoing experience of acquiring and using inventory better, faster, and easier?
What I think is needed is to extend the taxonomy-related information for user created content, and then to develop the means within the Second Life viewers to take advantage of that extended taxonomy.
A taxonomy, for those who aren't familiar with the term, is a structure for organizing information. Online catalogs have a taxonomy (departments, types of items, etc.). And yes, XStreetSL/SL Marketplace utilize a taxonomy. When you, as a computer user, go on to your desktop and arrange files and folders in a way that makes sense to you, you are creating a taxonomy.

There’s already a limited taxonomy built into Second Life objects – one that recognizes that a notecard is a notecard and not a landmark, for example. Other information that is already attached to items includes content creator, content permissions, etc. Prims that are part of an outfit have a default attachment point. For apparel and body parts, standard “types” exist (jacket, pants, skirt, sock, skin, shape, etc.) and items are tied to that type whether the item name identifies it or not.
How could an extended taxonomy benefit a typical SL user? They could recognize immediately what category a box or a folder falls into without having to open and investigate the contents. A user could understand what objects belong together at a glance. A thumbnail image could be directly tied to a group of inventory objects instead of just sitting in the same folder with them. . Prim attachments could have a “type” attribute (necklace, hat, shoe upper, etc.) in addition to the existing attachment points information). And every individual item in outfit is tied to all the others, from an inventory perspective, so the item knows where it’s “home” folder is located. That doesn’t prohibit ditching the one skin shade out of a fat back that you as a user can’t stand. It simply means that while that skin shade is in your inventory, it’s “home” folder is the one with the related skins. "Take" a rug back into your inventory from your house, and you have the option to either take it back to the default folder (Perhaps Home Furnishings > Rugs), or the user-created folder where you manually moved it a few days ago (Home Furnishings > Victorian > Rugs > Green)

Customize the organization as much as you want, but when you click the “clean up inventory” button, the objects you have in inventory return to their default folders.
Looking to SL Marketplace provides a starting point for organization of items into categories.
Tagging would further assist end users, as well as content creators, in inventory management. Styles, colors, etc. could all be identified through tagging. However…it is important to remember that free form content creator tagging (vs. directed tagging) does not necessarily produce consistent descriptors (“Pink” could be any color from a light baby pink to fushia).
And while we’re at it, how about standardization in naming objects? Shouldn’t a hair always have “Hair” in the title, regardless of what else the content creator wants to put in the name?

The idea behind this improved taxonomy is NOT to replace custom user organization. It is to provide a starting point for organization and a means of users more easily finding content. Linden Labs could go a long way towards making Second Life more “fast, easy and fun” by focusing on improving how users interact with inventory items.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SL Home & Garden Hunt bounty #1

Well, despite my hubby being stymied by two malfunctioning ink jet printers and a daughter applying for part time jobs online last night (Mom! What's the street address of my place at college? What's the zip code? What month did I quit the part-time job in my junior year of high school? Am I assertive or tactful?), I did manage to go to a few additional stores in the SL Home and Garden Hunt (Little Boxes, which I otherwise love, is now is at the top of my picks for most sadistic hunt item placement!) and unpack some of the bounty of gifts from the hunt. I even managed to snap a few pictures at my skybox. Without further ado, here are some of the hunt finds.

Above, #1 - Theosophy. Forgot to check the prim count but somehow I doubt this is all that low in prims. Cute, though.

Below - this was actually the container for #3 - Cleo Designs. Or, at least I think it was. If so, I think I lost the items. If I can find out what it was, I may go back and get it. I might save this and use it.

Below, #22 - Art Dummy! Chair and Table. The table isn't all that unusual, but the chair is really cute, IMO.

Below: I find it heard to be live that THIS is what we were all hunting for so long at Aria. I'm assuming that those are blank canvases, and one is supposed to unlink them and put textures on them? Or leave them blank? The linked canvases and frame were no mod but I didn't try to unlink them. I might use the books somehwere, but that's about it.

On the other hand, #18 - Melia, below, had a pleasant surprise or two in their gift. That lamp is just...warm...in a way most virtual furniture never could be, and it's not simply the color, it's also the soft lines of the lamp shade.. I'd totally use this in the right style of a setting. The cute little glass piece with shells in it would make a nice accessory for a beach house.

Monday, August 2, 2010

SL Home and Garden Hunt...some impressions

The Second Life Home and Garden Hunt officially opened Sunday, August 1st. I really wanted to do this hunt “right” – the first day, chatting with the official hunt group, and in order. This is the first time I’ve done a hunt in this manner! Let me share with you some things I’ve learned from this hunt.
  1. Hunting before there is a hint and/or SLURL list is really time-consuming! Especially with big hunts like this one (50 items). It ended up being a commitment of about 4 ½ hours of my time on Sunday, broken up into 2 hours + 1 ½ hour + 1 hour segments. I have not even finished the hunt. I have maybe 42 of the 50 items.
  2. Many of the folks who are into designing and blogging about home furnishings in SL are really, really nice people! The official hunt group chat was full of helpful folks who would trade hints and help those who were getting stuck. As the day got later and an unofficial SLURL/hint list was posted at The Hunt Locations blog, there were less people on the group sharing hints. 
  3. Home furnishing stores in SL tend to be either really, really big (Aria, What Next) or very small. Generally, it’s easier to find an object in a small store than a larger store. However…
  4. some store owners (both larger and smaller stores) are almost sadistic in their hiding of items (nothing new there!). There were many items on this hunt that I never would have found without a hint or help. There were some shops with obvious hunt gift locations (there was a group of 5 or 6 in order that were astonishingly easy).  And then there were the ones that were so hard, very few people could have ever found them on their own (Aria, for example). Store owners should take into consideration that it’s not just about who can be the cleverest in their hiding of items, because this can backfire on them, aggravating a potential customer. Personally, I bought three things while on this hunt, considered several other purchases, and found several stores that were new to me. I’ll remember the aggravation I had in a few stores as much as I’ll remember the items in their stores.
  5. Albero has got to have some of the silliest local chatters and hangers-on that I’ve seen at a SL shopping location or shopping-related event. That’s twice now in just a week – at the Gatcha festival round two last week, and now during this hunt. I’m not talking about event-related chatter, or even simply friendly chatter.  At the Gatcha Festival, I ended up adding a bunch of trash talkers to my personal ban list. This time around, it was a constant stream in Chinese. People…can’t you IM or start a group or something?
Obviously, the hunt became a big black hole of time for me yesterday, so I threw the fashion post and the other home furnishings post that were in the works out the window in order to make the progress that I did. And I don’t have any shots of hunt items to show you yet. But I hope to, later today. I can tell you that I’m excited to start unpacking, based on what I’ve seen from other bloggers!