Monday, October 29, 2007

Okay, no more posts about Blender, unless it does something really horrendous. I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about it.

So, let me talk about something pleasant: my new avatar. I was at Siyu Suen's Halloween party, and one of the guests was in a teeny tiny fairy avatar. I complimented her on it, and she said that she made them herself and asked if I'd like a landmark.

I had to have a little fairy avatar of my own, so I said yes. I don't normally do fashion blogging (or, er, avatar blogging), but this thing is adorable and I'm having so much fun bobbing around in it. Look!

That's my modeling stand behind me for scale. The avatar's like, six inches tall. The sculpted prims are beautiful, and you can change the outfit, hairstyle, wings and antennae, and the colors of everything. And it's only L$250, which made my jaw drop. If you want one of your own, you can get it at Seven's Selections Wings and Games.

Blender is now not letting me open my file with my tree in it. I changed the leaf textures (for a second time; changing the saturation on them the first time made Blender display them as a mess of noise, no kidding) and now Blender crashes every time I try to open the file.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I've been so busy with trees I haven't found time to make a costume for Siyu's party. Don't know if I'll go shopping or try to toss something together in Paint Shop Pro. Probably shopping, since I've spent enough time not working lately as it is.

In tree news, I'm not close to being done with a single tree yet, but I'm now in control of the process and I have a plan. I don't actually have a finished tree yet, but I know how to make one. I'm not flailing blindly anymore, and suddenly this project is looking manageable. I'm no longer scared that it won't work out and I'll have wasted my time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thank you to everyone who's given me encouragement and support with the trees. For someone who can barely string two vertices together, they're an ambitious project with an uncertain outcome (even now, it still may end in disaster), and the blog comments have helped when I've been tempted to just give up. Right now, I'm sculpting the branches, which is really tedious but not particularly difficult. I need to finish with them and clean up the trunk, then create all the sculpt textures. Then I can bake the bark textures onto the pieces that will be sculpted prims in SL, while rendering the rest of the branches individually, so that they can be turned into textures and placed onto flat prims in SL. If I can get that far and it looks good, I'll be happy, though I will still try for some scripted extras.

My hiatus is going to continue until January, when the sim opens up. Putting things together to sell is actually a lot of work for me -- and I don't mean building the first version of the item, but doing the ads and packaging -- and I just have zero desire to do that while simultaneously producing new things for the opening and wrestling with complicated landscaping and building. In an ideal world, I'd still be churning things out each week, but I just don't have the energy to do all that right now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There is good news and there is bad news.

The bad news is that the trees are still proving difficult. The good news is that the difficulty comes from my inability to model quickly, not my inability to use the infernal piece of software known as Blender. Hopefully this is the end of my Blender woes, and this blog will stop being endless complaining about the Worst Program Ever.

And now Blender is doing that thing where it says it has no image to bake to no matter what I do, even though the image is right there and I followed all the instructions in Amanda Levitsky's tutorial.

You know what? Blender isn't free. It just doesn't cost cash.

Monday, October 22, 2007

So I think I'm able to apply a leaf texture to the little squares that make up my leaves in Blender. I think. The alpha channel doesn't seem to be working quite properly, and all the leaves wind up red (they're supposed to be green). It took me forever to even get this far. There's a "use alpha" button in one of the texture windows, and you'd think that checking that would be enough. That's sensible, you know? You tick the button that makes Blender use the texture's alpha channel, and Blender uses the texture's alpha channel.

Of course, this is Blender, where nothing is sensible. Or sane. Or easy. You have to tweak at least two more settings, all of them scattered across other windows, in order to have Blender use the texture's alpha channel.

I am becoming increasingly convinced there is a special circle of hell reserved for those that designed Blender's interface, one in which demons make them perform simple tasks in ludicrously complicated and unintuitive ways. This is truly the worst interface of any program I've ever dealt with, and every time I attempt to do something, I discover new levels of badness. Nothing is easy with this program. Nothing.

And now Blender is crashing every time I try to apply a texture to an object.

I swear, I'm cursed.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Okay, I've glued the power button back in place and it's working again. For now anyway, though if it snaps off again I at least know how to fix it. Now back to trees and figuring out how to texture them in Blender. Bleah.

If you want a good Blender manual, by the way, I suggest trying Essential Blender, which I'm really happy with so far. You can buy it, or you can download the (older?) text files at that link, along with the images (though you need to download the images separately). It's full of clear and well written descriptions of what does what, and -- unlike Blender: Newb to Pro -- it's not a mess and doesn't just teach by having you do things and explaining what they are along the way. Each of the chapters covers a different topic (like lighting or objects), can be read on its own, and consists of both a tutorial and a plain explanation of the topic. Pulling up the image files manually whenever they're mentioned in the text is a bit of a pain, but it's worth in, in my opinion.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The power button on my computer snapped off today when I pressed it, and fell down inside the computer case. So after today, when I shut the machine down, I might not be around much for a while. I need to retrieve the button and then try to get it to work again. I'm pretty confident I can do the first -- the second, not so much. Oh, well. Maybe I can get the fan fixed if I have to have someone fix the power button. It's been acting up for a while, I think.

Oblivion has made me enthusiastic about landscaping, and I think I may have a way to make trees. Nice trees. Potentially very nice trees. Fingers crossed, though, because it involves Blender, rendering, and possibly some experimental scripting. Oh, and figuring out how to make a bark texture in Genetica, which I've bought but am still pretty lousy with.

I'd like to finish one tree tomorrow -- if not the scripting, then at least the basic tree. Here's hoping.

Oh, and there's a free navel ring for members of Miriel's Latest, my update group that has not been seeing many updates lately.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Have I mentioned that I hate Blender? Because I do. Lots.

I'm trying to build some sculpted prims in Blender and then bake textures for them. It's harder than it has any right to be and I haven't even been remotely successful yet. It took me forever just to figure out how to apply the texture, for one. For another, Blender treats all my sculpted objects as essentially the same object because they're copies of each other. I don't know how to get it to stop doing this. For another, my sculpt textures are 64 x 64, so I need to replace those with a 512 x 512 image to bake to, and I can't figure out how to do that. And lastly, the image I'm supposed to be baking to randomly disappears from time to time (like everything else in this program), and the only way to get it back is to load a different texture in its place. You'd think that I should just be able to use the "new" option in the texture menu, but you'd be wrong. I can go to "new" all I want, but it won't actually make a fresh texture for me.

I hate Blender. :(

Monday, October 15, 2007

I've been thinking about the horizon issue, and I've submitted a feature request to extend the void water (that water that's put in beyond the edge of a sim) farther. If you want to vote, it's at:

Will anything come of it? Maybe not, but at least I can try (and the last feature suggestion I made got incorporated). However blah the night sky, Linden trees, and terrain look, there's nothing enormously wrong with them. They've got flaws, but the main problem -- for me, anyway -- is that there just isn't much that's actively good about them. They're passable (except for maybe the trees), but that's all. The horizon, though, has big gaping holes in it, and however ridiculously the trees sway or the terrain curves, at least they're in one piece. I'd love it if we got a prettier night sky, but I'd love it even more if my suspension of disbelief didn't get a kick in the butt every time I turn my draw distance above 96.

In other news, I've been starting to make sculpted rocks for my sim. Even I can do that! Oh, and I have the basic script for the game written. Yay.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I recently picked up some things to distract myself with, including Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Goodness, it's pretty*. I don't really play graphical computer games, so I find myself comparing it to SL. It's really driven home for me how fugly SL's horizons are and how damaging this is to the overall look of things. It reminds me of the time I added sound to part of my parcel: I didn't realize how big a void its absence left until I added it. Look out into the distance in Oblivion and there are mountains and buildings. Look out into the distance in SL and there's nothing but smoggy haze, or an abrupt cutoff where things stopped being rendered, or gigantic square holes in the ocean. Everything's either dingy looking or blatantly unrealistic. And I know there is only so much LL can do with the horizon, but they could at least make the void ocean look better.

However, SL has better hair! It's like I'm stuck running around in Linden hair when I play Oblivion...

* And addictive. Must drag myself away to answer IMs. Oh, well. I was mostly just breaking lock picks anyway.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A quick update:

1. I'm done with both the remaining custom items. Yay!
2. I'm done building the shell of the new store. It still needs textures and furnishings, of course (and those aren't going to be fun, believe me), but the building itself is done. It's a central room surrounded by departments, so you'll be able to plunk yourself down in a (hopefully sculpted) chair and camera shop, if that's your thing.
3. I feel like I'm behind schedule. Given that I don't have much of a schedule beyond "be done and ready to buy the sim by the end of the year," this is kind of hard, but there's just so much to do and I'm so slow. The really big issues are the builds and the hair. Especially the hair.
4. I'm thinking of just giving my vendors away (no mod -- free, not open source) instead of selling them. I don't really want the responsibility of selling a script that's complicated and expensive. Too many problems if it goes kablooey.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I have a lot of trouble finding shoes for my Medieval/fantasy dresses. Nobody that I've found makes Medieval shoes. Nobody.

Or rather, nobody did, as Jackal Ennui has made some sculpted Medievalish shoes. Go buy them, and never again make do with modern flats you hope nobody will notice.

Friday, October 05, 2007

I have no idea how Siyu handles sculpted prims so well. I've been trying to make a chair back using them, and it's a total and utter disaster. It looks like a five year old got ahold of some modeling clay.

And that's before exporting it to SL.

Lest you assume I'm trying to make something ill suited for sculpted prims, what I'm trying to do is something like the green chair in this picture. With less ornamentation, of course. This should not be very hard!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

To those of you I promised custom things to (all three of you): I haven't forgotten you. I'm hoping to be done with those items very soon.

In other news, here's what I think my new product pictures will look like:

Thoughts? Most of the information on permissions, etc. will be on signs in the room, instead of being repeated for every product.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's occurred to me that some of you may be interested in the results from the Jewelry Expo auction. Here they are, listed by piece, winner, and winning bid.

SETI - Tanya Book - L$2,000
Seed of Life - Laurel Oh - L$2,100
Stars My Destination - Laurel Oh - L$4,650
Zafiria - Winston Courier - L$3,500
Celestial - Alienbear Gupte - L$10,000
Queen Galaxy (Gold) - lilPrincess Snowdrop - L$8,800
Queen Galaxy (Silver) - lilPrincess Snowdrop - L$11,000
Queen Galaxy (Dark) - lilPrincess Snowdrop - L$8,200
Multi Dangle Earth - Rosmairta Kilara - L$400
Heavenly Bodies - Raven Sutherland - L$1,500
Starlight - Tuli Asturias - L$3,500
Solar System - Tuli Asturias - L$350
Stars, Suns, and Comets - Tuli Asturias - L$1,000
Galaxy Bracelet - florenze Kerensky - L$1,751
Celestial Cameo - Mel Fitzcarraldo - L$3,000
Amore la Luna - Darkling Elytis - L$1,100
Moonlit - Twome Rutledge - L$7,600
Crystal Aurora - Liana Arai - L$1,500

Total: L$71,951

Coupled with L$52,102 from the donation kiosks and L$126,555 extra sponsor money, that's L$250,608 total -- or, after exchanging it on the Lindex, US$912.51 (which has been withdrawn and donated by this point). Thanks to everyone who donated or bid.