I’ve been in SL just over 3 years now, and this years SL8B was the first SL Birthday I’ve ever attended. I actually sent my “niece” Petal to check it out, since she’s usually the avatar I log on when there’s exploring to be done.
Two builds really stood out as superior, in my opinion: The Royal Court of Prussia, and the 1920 Berlin Project. Looking back and trying to deconstruct why I liked them so much, and why some others (for which I had higher hopes) were disappointing to me, some common ideas came to mind.
The Best Builds…
- Were visually appealing at a distance.They’d have something in their architecture that looked tasteful yet attractive, and rezzed quickly so I wasn’t looking at a giant “ball” where a sculpt had yet to rez in. A well-built and well-textured area was a real joy to look at without being an eyesore (more on that in a bit). They may have used animation or particles, or just interesting items, or a combination of the above, to get attention.
- Were approachable from more than one side. Multiple points of entry and exit made the exhibits more interesting from more spots, so that no matter which way I was coming from, I could see and easily get into the exhibit.
- Immediately answered the question of “what am I looking at?” They put their exhibit name in the parcel name, and put some description in the Parcel description. There was some simple-to-read, quick-rezzing signage with more information, but no more information than neccessary.
- Immediately made the visitor feel welcome, and like a part of the exhibit. The hands-down winner at this (of what I’ve seen so far) was the 1920 Berlin Project build. They’re a historical RP sim, and their build had people there in costumes interacting and welcoming people and offering them drinks and a place to sit. Everyone who walked in, be they a 21st-Century fashionista, an anthropomorphic horse, a neko, or a nine-year-old elf girl, got a warm welcome and as a result they’d often stay and visit a while.
- Made excellent use of the space they’re given. 1024 square meters may not seem like a lot, but in the hands of a skilled builder, that space came to life in fascinating ways. I’ll mention the 1920 Berlin build once more: their space contained a pub, an inn room, an art gallery, a bit of street with an antique parked car, and a working movie theater, all with plenty of headroom and without a feeling of being crowded.
- Gave the visitor something to do. It may have been a dance ball, or a maze, or a ride, or a hunt, or even karaoke; but all the best builds had something fun for visitors to do.
- Had awesome freebies. Lots of unbelievably cool free things. OMG. I thought I’d never leave Bear Island, for example. I especially liked how the 1920 Berlin Project put their freebies on the least visually appealing side of the exhibit, against a wall. The Royal Court of Prussia put theirs inside their palace.
- Immediately answered the question of “How is this magic?” The theme of this year’s celebration, of course, is The Magic of Second Life. And the very best exhibits made that theme clear without question. They would either transport the visitor to another time and/or place, do unexpected things to make you think, “I’ve never done that before!” or otherwise made the jaw drop.
- Were obvious advertisements and little more. They only related themselves to the theme by sticking “magic” in the name, but not explaining what was really enchanting about it. And along with that, the only freebies (if any) offered were a t-shirt with their logo on it. Weaksauce.
- Left me wondering what’s going on here. They didn’t fill in their parcel name, didn’t put in any description, and/or had so much signage in trendy (i.e.: hard-to-read) fonts that they’d take forever to rez and were near impossible (and not interesting enough) to read.
- Didn’t get the memo of how tacky “Glow” can be. Some builds were a treat for the eyes; others were a shrieking assault on them. I won’t say all builds using “glow” were tacky; I will say that almost all tacky builds used “glow”. The same can be said for particle overkill as well.
- Made me have to work for it. Walk around this huge blank wall. Now flip eight pages to finally open the only entrance into the build. When it’s open, jump (not walk, but but jump) through it. And you better do it quick, or it’ll close and you’ll have to start all over. Now say some things on one channel to make something that doesn’t work happen. Try it again. And again. Oh, there we go. You’ll want to be in Mouselook. Now say something on another channel to make something else that doesn’t work happen. By the way, you’ll want to make sure you use Viewer 2 so you can see the cool media on the prim effect. Don’t have it? Here, watch this preloader for 10 minutes and see if anything happens. Also, make sure you set your viewer to “midnight”, your draw distance is set to 8,000,000, your Particles are set to as many as your graphics card can handle, your sounds are on, your stream is on, your media player is on, your voice is on, and anything else you can find to crank to its limit is on. Now, sit in this rotating chair. Now, I’m not going to tell you what you have to do. You have to figure it out by clicking on random shit. Now push this button. Now do it again. And again. You can’t go out that way. Or that way. And you can’t see which way you came in. FUCK THIS I’M RELOGGING.
So there you have it. What did you think of the builds at SL8B, and what were your favorites?