by Alphaville Herald on 02/06/08 at 6:46 pm
mega prims, WalMart syndrome for content creators, and hot chicks
by JayR Cela
Recently I had the opportunity to meet with the Virtual World band SpaceJunky stage manager;Tommy Parrott. He is a SLDeveloper an accomplished artist. The band has been taking SL and RL by storm, featured in Time Magazine and other publications. There seems to be no stopping them. The music and show are phenomenal,and a large part of it has to do with this SL Developer & content creator. He was so nice as to allow me an interview, I would like to share it with you:
JayR Cela: what exactly is SLDEV and how deeply are you involved with in that organization
Tommy Parrott: Second Life Developers; it is a group for content creators that have had major (Sim sized minimum) projects; It is run by Glenn and Madhavi Linden.
JayR Cela: have you been with them since early on ?
Tommy Parrott: No; I joined about 8 months ago; about 1/2 through my current time existence. I had to fully own Ginsberg first (as it requires Large scale/sim sized projects minimum) and I wasn’t really confident at that time my skills would meet their criteria for entrance when I first joined.
JayR Cela: so I take it that you design everything from the ground up, texture’s / sculpt maps,sounds,the whole deal?
Tommy Parrott: yes, but I just started scripting, so I mostly modify existing ones to serve my needs
JayR Cela: you must have an extensive background in RL art ?
Tommy Parrott: Not really; I was born an artisan in many fields; I am an accomplished musician (percussionist), an accomplished photographer (I have had my photography in the largest art gallery in Las Vegas; art Encounter), and I am a network engineer in RL; I create networks for clients.
JayR Cela:Where do you find the extra time?
Tommy Parrott: Well; for the most part, I have discontinued advertising my network skills, and only deal with existing clients. I essentially sold my computer service that I owned and operated for 14 years to take on this virtual landscape while it was still in its infancy… I know a good thing when I see it, and this is a great opportunity
JayR Cela: so this is really a full time profession for you now
Tommy Parrott: yes
JayR Cela: I am curious,your choice of Graphics tools,if I may ask what do you prefer
Tommy Parrott: Photo Shop CS2.
JayR Cela: Have you used any other tools / such as The Gimp or Blender …..
Tommy Parrott: Yes; and I am not a fan of them. I played with both, but stick to things I am more familiar with; Maya, Sound Forge, Wave Lab, Photo Shop, Sculptie Paint Things I never knew would benefit me later down the road, as I had not planned on becoming a video game programmer/designer. Just lucky (luck is being prepared when opportunity knocks on your door I had the knowledge and skills from using those programs, which integrated into SL seamlessly so to speak.
JayR Cela: so would you consider SL to be the opportunity of a life time so to speak, or a stepping stone towards a much greater and wide open Virtual World ?
Tommy Parrott: Absolutely a stepping stone; we will look back 20 years from now and say “my gosh, do you remember when we used that thing called Second Life. Man, it was so primitive (pun intended) compared to XXXXXXX”
JayR Cela: have you tried any of the competing Virtual Worlds out there / Hipihi – MetaVerse – Project Dark Star, Twinity ……..and if so / which ones on one in particular seems to have gotten your interest the most ?
Tommy Parrott: Yes; I acquired my free 10,000 meters of land from HiPiHi last year; it sits until they become more advanced (and in English,LOL).
JayR Cela: I hear most of the menu’s are still in Mandarin
Tommy Parrott: Yes, even the email updates are in Mandarin
JayR Cela: now as a few people know already you are the set designer,coordinator,operator of the visual effects for the Virtual World band SpaceJunky stage show / how did you get involved with them ?
Tommy Parrott: That is an interesting story you should ask…. A friend of mine (metalheadCosmos) told me of this chick he was talking to lately, and thought she was cool, and one day I should meet her… Well…. A couple of weeks later, he started telling me how she always had to go to the gym, and her AV was really hot, but he really didn’t know if she was talking trash or really going to the gym as she had said.He introduced us, and she began talking to me all the time; asking me how I was how I was doing; seeming to have a genuine interest…. Sometime shortly afterwards, she ended up meeting Shakti Cianci (the lead vocalist for SpaceJunky) and being both from Australia, they hit it off like a match to a powder keg…Soon, Bella Dutton became their publicist and Shak soon after asked her to find some places to play, but not clubs, more tasteful environments such as, art
galleries and such…. Bella knew I had an art gallery, and asked if I wanted them to play there at the ARTS Center… I said yes, and they gave me a stage to rezz for their show on the roof of The Grand Gallery…. I took the liberty of creating a new stage and added about 10 lights to it that were HUD driven…. It was a smashing success (it is documented in Izzy Coles photo time line (he is the tour photographer)… they had no lights to start out with, so pretty much anything I added would have worked.
JayR Cela: was your inspiration for the stage design before or after you had listened to some of their music ?
Tommy Parrott: The first stage was before I heard the music; it was a simple rectangular stage, which has grown into complex obtuse stages of immense proportions. After the show was over, I asked if they needed a lighting, staging manager, and Shakti said yes, and the rest is history
JayR Cela: I have seen them perform 2 times now and was completely blown away both visually and sonicly/I would imagine it is a continual work in progress- 1000 prims according to the Promo Pack Bella sent me yesterday
Tommy Parrott: For the mobile unit; yes The main Amphitheater is about 2000
JayR Cela: and the main Amphitheater is located on your Sim or their own ?
Tommy Parrott: It is located in Shangria; home of SpaceJunky, Bare Rose Satellite and Inspire Designs
JayR Cela: recently,and over the past year or so there have been grumblings over the subject of Mega Prims being allowed here in SL, do you see this actually happening in the near or distant future, and if so could you elaborate on some of the pro’s & cons of LL implementing this as a new feature set ?
Tommy Parrott: Well…. Mega Prims at one time were not allowed in SL , but it has become accepted at this point as many people have used then for their creations. Next year Mega Liberation is coming. What is Mega Liberation you might ask? It will allow a resident to return prims that are over their parcel border; yet the center axis is not, making the offended user NOT able to return as the center axis is not on “their” parcel. Then afterwards, I have heard we might get the ability to create prims up to 256 meters in size because the land owner next door could then return the invisible/phantom part on his land back to its rightful owner, thus eliminating the megaprim problem… P.S. as far as lag is concerned; I have over 100 mega prims in my sim in various sizes from 15×15 to 100×100, and it slows my sim down maybe 5% (nominal
JayR Cela: so you see this as a definite plus?
Tommy Parrott: Absolutely; its a simple thesis…. a 100 meter cube currently requires 100 10 meter cubes to make; that is 300 xyz points that must be calculated and rendered; a mega prim on the other hand only requires 3 coordinates to render instead of 300…MASSIVE difference It’s only LL that is limiting us. I was able to make 350 mega prims, and all you do is stretch them to the size you want; it was no big secret; no voodoo magic; just them accidentally allowing us to make them again
JayR Cela: I noticed that you had mentioned that one of your tools of choice is Sculpty Paint, any particular reason you have chosen this over some others / and what do you feel are the major advantages of being able to use Sculpt Maps in your work ?
Tommy Parrott: Sculptie Paint is like Photo Shop for sculpties; Cel Edman has created a wonderful tool that allows one to take the primitive to the next level… Incredible tool it is, and I now use no other, as I can do in Sculptie Paint what I could do in Maya; albeit, a little less control, but the same end result, and Sculptie Paint is free; Maya costs thousands of USD…
JayR Cela: as far as the world of SL content creators is concerned there are some notable names out their often Renee Faulds / Aminom Marvin / Hydra Shaftoe / Marc Montague, to name a few, what is the general sense of feeling amongst VW content creators here in SL – Is it a sense of comradeship – competition – anonymity? In your opinion? What do you get a sense of the overall atmosphere here.
Tommy Parrott: I think there is a lil’ of all involved; some creators are very competitive; some are very happy to share ideas amongst others; and some like to hermit away and simply do their own thing
JayR Cela: conversely, whats your take on companies Like Electric Sheep – or – Monagram Virtua Entertainment …. and or others?
Tommy Parrott: Well; they are the commercial conglomerates; even tho started by former founding members of LL, they have a different agenda than the smaller “mom & pop” businesses. They compete on an entirely different playing field… But then you have commercial content creators like Anshe Chung stepping up to the plate with her 10L$ store, and now LL has ventured into the commercialization of Second Life by creating Bay City; which makes things even tougher for the “mom & pop” shops ;(
JayR Cela: do you see this as a possible inevitability, as in RL the Mom & Pop operations will be squashed under the heels of the corporate elite, and if there is a way to avoid this future scenario what would be your advice to fellow independents?
Tommy Parrott: It is eerily reminiscent of the “Wal_Mart” syndrome; provide content on a massive scale, close the neighboring shops down due to lack of business, and then shut the store down;decimating the town (Tommy Parrott snaps out of his daydream .
JayR Cela: well said…
JayR Cela: anything that you would care to add in closing ?
Tommy Parrott: This is a great opportunity; hopefully, it will have all the things necessary to operate as a RL counterpart in the not too distant future… Sure, Second Life has its ups and downs, but when does Real Life not have the same presented challenges? We will all peacefully co-exist one day soon; griefers, merchants, and citizens alike The new dawn is upon us… Whether some choose to accept, and embrace this future utopia, still remains to be seen….