So this isn’t the first time I’ve done this, but once again I’m finding myself pondering what makes some exhibits at SL10B amazeballs and what makes others… less so. I first mentioned some things back at SL8B and I think some of the ingredients for awesome sauce remain timeless. Others, I’ve only considered recently.
Now, keep in mind, I’m no expert. I’ve only exhibited once and I’m hardly an authority. But, I know what I like, and I know how to be an observant visitor. So take from this what you want.
Ingredients for awesome sauce include:
- Being open and inviting from more than one side. I’m really good at finding precisely the wrong entrance to an exhibit and blundering in, and I can’t be the only one (can I?). If the exhibit really can/should only be entered from one point, it should be clear and easy to find from the other sides too.
- Giving the avatar something to do. Be it a ride, a game, a hunt, or even just a place to sit and relax, I for one like having something to do when I visit an exhibit. Mind, that’s not the same as having to work for it. I don’t want to have to go through a maze if all I want is to pop in and get some pictures. There’s a fine line between encouraging participation and railroading. And by the way, is it me, or are there way fewer of these this year?
- Beauty or awesomeness clearly visible at a distance. It’s not enough to be seen at a distance. There are countless (as Crap calls them) middle-finger towers that you can see at a distance easily. But that’s not enough. It’s the difference between “WHOA what’s that over there?! I must go see!” and “EW, what the hell is that over there? I must avoid!”.
- Loading quickly. Awesome builds use fewer textures, smaller textures, and otherwise uses textures in a smart way so that they don’t take all afternoon to load.
- Looking fresh, new, and innovative. That doesn’t necessarily mean looking modern. For example, a medieval village square that uses mesh is going to look better and load faster than one that’s still rezzing because it’s all sculpts. It may use newer scripts for firelight effects or sounds or in how it gives out information. Awesome builds wow the visitor by using things in new ways.
- Good freebies. Freebies at all are not a requisite for an awesome build, in my opinion; but if you’re going to have them, make them good ones. Something that took some time and effort. Hell, at at least one exhibit, freebies are the whole point and so the build is loaded with amazing stuff to take home.
What more can I say? If it’s dull, why bother?
Now, I mentioned, you gotta sift through a good bit of rough before finding the diamonds. Here, in my opinion, are the things to avoid when making an exhibit.
- Nothing but an advertisement for your thing. It’s a fine line between telling people about your community/club/shop/what have you, and advertising it. Between “in case you were curious about us…” and “HAY LOOK AT ME!”. You can have an exhibit about your thing in a way that doesn’t feel like advertising (Bay City comes to mind as an example) but it’s tricky. Make it about celebrating the birthday/being in theme FIRST, then worry about letting people know who you are LAST (if at all).
- Ugly textures. This is subjective, I’ll concede, but weaksauce exhibits were tacky in their use of textures. More than one had a blurry, poorly-tiled outer space-ish texture that looked like it was a last minute thought. If you really can’t let a certain texture go, at least tile it evenly and use some shading.
- A Big Box of Boring. Crap hated the middle finger towers; I hate the big ugly fill-the-parcel-with-a-giant-box structure. It’s unwelcoming, it’s ugly, it make terrible use of the space, and it’s usually covered with an ugly texture (see previous) or else plain black. I think people use these because they want you to experience their exhibit, and only theirs, without any of the other ones in the background. But I’m of the opinion that it’s an expo and you’re supposed to see lots of exhibits at any given time. Dishonorable mention goes to enclosed spheres or hemispheres; they’re even worse use of volume.
- Falling back on the past. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m a big proponent of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Also, given the theme of SL10B, there will be retrospectives. That’s not what I’m talking about here, however. I’m talking about making your build look like it was made in 2006, with clunky prims, bad texturing, obsolete scripts… really I’m just repeating what I said earlier. In addition to this, however, I was disappointed at seeing some builds that just did the same thing they did last year and/or the year before. They didn’t stretch forth to try something new.
- A Subscribe-o-matic. Not only do those things use notecards– the lowest form of communication in Second Life– but they suck. I wish I could be more eloquent when I say how deeply they suck. They scream “advertisement”, they turn your exhibit into a recruiting tool, they’re a bitch to unsubscribe from, in short they’re horrible.