Thursday, October 13, 2005

And then there was light...

SL is a bust. I mean, here's a programmable 3-D multiuser community and what do the members do? They make crappy, unzoned, crappy, unimaginative, and did I say crappy? strip malls. The place is littered with empty malls, and thinly populated bars and gambling joints. It's so American and so disappointing. There's the future of your tech generation: remaking the local mall in 3D. We're all fucking doomed, doomed I tell ya'.

There are allegedly thousands upon thousands of these residents but they are invisible. They have left behind wonderfully built completely empty homes and shops. It's kinda creepy in that scifi way. Every now and then (when not dancing in a bar with, maybe, 10 other people) I'll see a person fly by or catch a furry hustling past intent on some destination. I tried to follow one once but s/he obviously got spooked by that and ditched me. Then there was that time the fox in the tuxedo yelled at me for some reason I couldn't understand.

But, there's got to be something we could do in there that's interesting.

Initially, after I realized the paucity of imagination in there, I really wanted to subvert the whole place. Fuckin' tringo games. James wanted to create a ponzi scheme to swallow up a lot of Linden bucks and then flood the exchange and drive down their value, but that became impossible when the exchanges were suspended. Of course, there's still real estate speculation.

Well I thought we could unleash an idea virus, a meme, some little radioactive isotope of an object or idea that we could trace, like a virus simulation, through the population. The problem is that the SL society, such as it is, is hardly a cohesive community. How could a meme spread across a social desert?

Then, for some reason, I had a germ of an idea: let's put on a play. I know, it sounds bizarre. Maybe I was thinking about Stephenson's ractors or Gibson's Idoru. I imagined we could do a one-act, something simple. There would need to be props, costumes, scenery, direction, musical score perhaps, plenty to do and all of it SL object manipulation. Cool.

I mentioned it to James and we both met up in SL to screw around and try some stuff out. I was flying around looking for some textures for the seating I was building when James joined me, and we wandered into a theatre. It was empty of course, but dark. And when we walked out, it was light. Dark. Light. Dark. Light.

Finally I figured out they had set a wall prim to phantom so you could walk through it, and made a box that was transparent black. Well, it made sense to me. And to James.

We rushed "home" to try it out. I made a black, hollow, transparent box with phantom walls. It worked. Then James tried to make a follow spot. He had the brilliant idea of making a cone of light, also transparent, and wearing it (sorta like a party hat) so that the follow spot followed. It was fuckin' awesome. Great stuff. We got excited about learning how to do this on our own, through experimentation and dialogue. No f'n manuals. Just us.

...which is actually the point of the blog, the play late title being a reference to the notion that play, as a leading activity for learning and development, shouldn't mustn't doesn't end at the beginning of adulthood. Play is the best way to learn. Why dump it just when the stakes for learning are really getting high?

So we have learned about we need to think about how the actors will actually give their lines... there is no voice stream in SL.

We'll think of something clever. Come back and check us out.

Meanwhile, play hard!
-- Valentine