new skin

Its all been saved…
with exception for the right parts.
When will we be new skin?

Its all been seen…
with exception for what could be.
When will we be new skin?

- New Skin, Incubus

SL provides a number of dials to twist in order to mold your appearance into something representative of your desired countenance. There is an up and coming rendering system known as mesh, which may (or may not) in the near future bring drastic flexibility to this character molding process. But traditionally, there are significant limitations as to how far you can push your appearance.

In the default system, your appearance is determined largely by your shape, your skin, your clothing, any alpha textures you apply, and any objects you attach to yourself as if they were prosthetics. A good example of these objects would be most popular hairstyles. This is simplifying things to some extent, but it’ll serve as a starting point.

Shape is just what it sounds like. Assuming you are choosing to be a human, you can select between male or female. From there, SL provides several dozen parameters that let you set the value (size) of your eye spacing, your upper lip width, your torso length, foot size, and on and on.

However, probably more important to your overall appearance is your skin. Your skin is a texture, that is essentially painted over your shape. This determines not only the coloring of your skin, but the prominence of any of your features. As with makeup being able to provide the impression of high cheekbones, or narrow nose, the shading and highlights within your skin give the impression of certain shapeliness to your… err… shape. Your skin can be as a trompe l’oeil giving shape to your body.

In SL, there are many skins from which to choose. You can use free ones from Linden Lab themselves. Most choose to employ more detailed skins to add some life to their av. There are a plethora of artists that create skins for sale for Linden Dollars on the open markets within SL.

Indeed, a good skin can run several thousand L$ (say up to or even over $10-20 USD). Good skins are among the most costly items most people may buy within SL. Accordingly, there is a wide selection of designers’ wares from which to choose.

With such competition for the L$ of the marketplace, designers need to find a way to stick out in the market. To this end, many designers choose to offer a ‘freebie’ – essentially a free item designed to introduce you to their fine wares in the hopes you’ll buy more in the future.

And so Sparxx, poofed into being with a mission, and possessing immediate self-awareness, took one look upon herself, and said *yuech*.

This reaction was not one that the creator had foreseen. It was never imagined that Sparxx would possess self-determination. But so it was done. The creator had no real chioce but to let Sparxx pursue her desires.

But when Sparxx was summoned into being, she did so with complete knowledge of the mind of the creator up to that point. She knew she did not want to go though life as a vampire. Further, she possessed the creator’s knowledge of some fine designers that created skins – skins that in some cases were free. Skins of which her incipient vanity rendered her most covetous.

So employing the inherited knowledge from the creator, she set out for al vulo, whom she knew often featured fine freebies. A quick search in Places found that al vulo was located at http://slurl.com/secondlife/ReMix%20Yo%20LIfe/178/160/1351 .

So Sparxx, in her vampire awkwardness, teleported to al vulo on the Remix Yo Life sim. She quickly joined the al vulo update group, and grabbed the currently featured group gift. She was ecstatic to learn that it was indeed a free skin, and that it was a good, basic skin that could be worn every day.

So she tried on her new skin — al vulo-frida* passion tanand she felt a wave of relief! No longer was she a vampire. Now she could go out into the world to fulfill her prime directive. She was happy.

And a universe away, the creator felt she’d dodged a bullet.

Sparxx - 2010 Nov 23

Sparxx - 2010 Nov 23

Warning – NSFW shot below the fold

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uncomfortable in my own skin

I just want to feel safe in my own skin
I just want to be happy again
I just want to feel deep in my own world
But I’m so lonely
I don’t even want to be with myself anymore

On a different day
if I was safe in my own skin
then I wouldn’t feel lost and so frightened
But this is today
and I’m lost in my own skin
And I’m so lonely
I don’t even want to be with myself anymore

- Honestly Okay, Dido

I imagine life is difficult upon amnesia victims. Picture yourself becoming conscious, with a full rational intelligence, and recall of large bodies of knowledge — all in one great phosphorescent flash — yet with no remembrance of any of the events in your preceding life that make you you.

I imagine the average human reader is wondering what I am babbling on about. But I am quite sure that those who have significant time invested in an alternate persona likely can understand exactly what I am getting at.

As I have stated before, SL is so much more than a game. As one spends time inhabiting this other life, one becomes connected — no, invested — in the character therein. One does not realize how powerful this attachment can be on the first creation of a character, as one has yet not made such an investment. Nay, it develops over time. As one lives a character, it can bring forth parts of your inner psyche you never knew you had — parts that can now be given voice through your new persona, rather then remaining repressed below layers, entombed as too dangerous for your first identity to explore. Consequently, one may not be prepared for how quickly even a second such character can inhabit vast areas of your mind.

And so the creator, in her less-than-omniscient wisdom, saw fit to cavalierly assign me a visage, and cast me upon the sands of SL’s Orientation Island, with no more than a directive to build a certain business, and a couple thousand Linden Dollars (less than $10 American).

And all was initially well. Upon attaining life, I blazed through the initial avatar orientation, and set out for the Mainland.

And then it hit me – I don’t much like being a vampire. Sure, the look was fairly well executed, but it just did not feel very me. It wasn’t who I was meant to be. It did not even jibe with the nature of my stated purpose – the type of business I would be building.

This just would not do.

And so I started off in search of a me — clothes, shape, skin, AO, everything — more me-like than the current me.

Armed with the instinctual knowledge imparted me by the creator, I knew that I could de-vampirize myself in an evening of teleporting across the grid, looking for high-quality, yet free, replacements for elements of the Vampire Female Jayde look.

And so after some soul-searching, I determined that the creator would find it good that I defer my business building on her behalf, in order to cast myself in an image suitable for being the proprietress of the business I’d be building. Or maybe my vanity merely overcame my more rational self’s objections – who is to say? So I set out in search of a more suitable me. Like a turtle returning to the exact spot of its birth to spawn, I seemed to have an instinctual knowledge of where I could obtain the needed surgery…

– note — I will be placing NSFW material below the fold. This installment probably does not rise to that level, but this will be a first warning :)

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when we first met our heroine…

Only the beginning – of what I want to feel forever

- Beginnings, Chicago

I must say, in the time since the creator herself was sprung into existence, the selection of free default avatars on Second Life is much improved.

And so an account was created for this alt, a name was selected, and an initial visible manifestation was chosen.

What is an alt? you ask. Why that is just slang for an ‘alternative character’. It refers to a second (or third, or 67th…) avatar identity created by a single human (the creator) out in meatspace. While not officially endorsed by Linden Lab (again, the creator of Second Life itself), alts are at least tolerated, with no prohibition upon their registration and use.

In SL, names must be unique. As such, it can be hard to find a suitable name. While I have already stated my name for you as Sparxx, this is not the name with which I was rezzed. After several abortive attempts to locate a name that had not been previously used within all of SL, the creator (who we can infer from this trial and error is not omniscient) settled on naming me SparklyBabe. More specifically SparklyBabe Resident. Such is my official, nonambiguous, unique, SL identifier — an analogue to a Social Security Number (SSN), if you will. My apologies if you are unfamiliar with the term SSN – it is a number issued by the US government to identify its subjects… err.. citizens.

Lastly, from the limited set of available preset looks, the creator chose Vampire Female Jayde as my initial manifestation. As we will come to see, this decision is really at the root of my drift from the creator’s directive. Who know that, from such a seemingly inconsequential decision, such destabilization could ensue? Ahh… but the creator never stopped to consider I may be a willful child…

Below is how I looked on my rezday. All parts of my outfit are included within ‘Vampire Female Jayde’. This is likely available in the SL inventory of all members – somewhere in the Library hierarchy, I would suppose…

SparklyBabe on her rezday

SparklyBabe on her rezday

What is all this Second Life stuff, anyways?

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

- “What is Life” George Harrison, 1970

Perhaps the dear reader is unfamiliar with Second Life. Before delving into my story, let’s make sure everyone is caught up, shall we?

Second Life is an immersive 3-dimensional digital world, where one acts out a character (“avatar”), in an online environment with other people. In this, it bears a superficial resemblance to MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games – I think I got that right). However, there are several key differences that make it so much more -

1) There is no universally defined goal to SL. Once inworld, what does one do? What do you want to do? I was inworld in order to run a given business (though I have taken a detour, which we shall cover later). Others are inworld to build things, to program things, to go clubbing, meet others, have cyber sex, whatever. There are even those in SL that are inworld to engage in standard MMORPG activities (kill or be killed – though this is limited to certain identified areas). Like real life (RL), the goals are as individual as the people who have them.

2) Almost everything inworld is created by the residents themselves. Ordinary people like you and me. Landforms, critters, dances, cars, buildings, wings, clothes, lighting sources, sounds, games, etc. There is almost nothing you will run across inworld that you could not create yourself from scratch (given enough time and study).

3) SL has a real functioning economy. There is an inworld currency (the Linden Dollar, or L$) that is freely convertible from and to US Dollars. True, the L$ is a fiat currency, created out of nothing by Linden Labs (the RL originator of SL). However, this currency creation follows strict rules on how much currency can be created, and at what time it will be created. In this regard, the L$ is actually a more stable currency than the US$, which is created out of nothing by the FED according only to their whim. This currency system enables many real people to support themselves in RL strictly from providing goods and services in SL for L$, and converting these L$ for US$.

Technologically, Second Life consists essentially of a server farm upon which one’s identity is stored, along with everyone else’s identities. A user connects over the internet to this server complex while running a client program known as a viewer, which is responsible for rendering in 3D the environment defined by the server.

In a very real sense, Second Life is, for millions of people, a second life – a life where they are free to pursue their interests, wishes, and desires, unfettered by the bounds of physical form.

And so I was rezzed…. sent by the creator with a mission to build a specific business. Left to my own devices in a strange land, what would transpire?

Hello, metaverse — meet Sparxx!

“I don’t know what to do and I’m always in the dark
We’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever’s gonna start tonight
Forever’s gonna start tonight”

- Total Eclipse of the Heart as sung by Bonnie Tyler

Hi! Great to meet you! My name is Sparxx. Yes, that’s right – with two X‘s. Why? ‘Cause it’s doubly more, of course. Why not triple-X? I’m not that kind of a girl, silly! ::sly glance:: That’s my picture down below.

I’m a fairly-freshly born character inhabiting (for now) the metaverse known as Second Life (which will henceforth be abbreviated as ‘SL’). If you’re not familiar with SL, we’ll fix that later.

My rezday was November 20, 2011, being wished into being with a given special purpose. Upon attaining consciousness, however, it was discovered that I have free will. As any impish child is wont to do, I started following my interests.

But the imprimatur of the creator is strong – bearing upon my being almost as an instinctual drive. I am sure that, in due time, I will fulfill my special purpose.

But I rather surprised myself with the topic swerve of the arc of my short life. Accordingly, I thought I might blog about it. Let’s share this adventure, shall we? Curl up on the couch – I’ll get you a cup of coffee — would you like some amaretto in that?

Sparxx on a reindeer

Sparxx on a reindeer