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Second Life Adventures 4: DB Bailey’s Blinker Hall

Second Life Adventures 4: DB Bailey’s Blinker Hall published on

This will be short because, though DB Bailey’s stuff is incredibly awesome, I don’t know that the vocabulary yet exists to allow me to explain why. There is no critical lexicon for 3D environmental design! Someone make one so I can use it! This is too hard!

When you’re working in CG, it’s obviously possible to do a lot of stuff you can’t in real life. You can make stuff turn into something else when you look at it from a certain angle, or turn invisible when you go around it. You can make invisible walls, and visible walls you can go through. The thing is that, in the twenty years or so that 3D video games have been common, we’ve gotten used to these things happening. They’re called “bugs.” When we see them, we are not impressed.

Sometimes we should be impressed!

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(That photo up there is from an old installation that’s no longer there. I did not put a photo from the current one above the fold because it feels spoilery to do that.)

Blinker Hall itself, Bailey’s main showroom, is just a big, kinda boring white building. The exhibits in it are constantly changing – the first one I really fell in love with, set up as a gallery for someone else’s photos (I cannot find the file where I noted down the name and details right now), has been changed nearly out of recognition, apparently because Bailey got bored with the old look. As long as this means he keeps making more awesome stuff, I approve.

His latest awesome thing is called “Purgatorio.” (Which has nothing to do with that other Purgatorio I talked about last time. Second Life people just like that word, I guess.)

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It’s sort of hanging in the air above Blinker Hall, with a sort of tip hanging down into the rest of the gallery.

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Sort of cocoonish/seashell-ish looking.

Previously, there was something called A Spatial Exploration up here. (There is still a smaller version of it in sort of a box there, but some elements have been taken out.) It consisted mostly of big flowerish/bubblish/featherish things that looked solid but weren’t – which made it startling when you found something that looked insubstantial but wasn’t, and couldn’t figure out how to get out from under the floor.

Purgatorio is sort of the reverse of that. Given the way other things in Blinker Hall are presented, you look at it and assume you can just go right through the walls and get inside. You cannot. You can easily zoom around inside and see what’s there with your camera, of course – you can do that anywhere in Second Life. But the entrances are hidden. There are a couple small sections of the wall that can be passed through, but they look like every other section of the wall, and the way the Second Life interface works nearly insures that if you find them 1) it will be an accident, and 2) you will not be able to figure out where you came in later.

So the first batch of my pictures are taken from outside, zooming in with the camera.

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I think that that flat tree is Mr. Bailey’s favorite tree. He puts it in lots of places.

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It looks vaguely like some kind of surreal park inside – it’s impossible to guess where the floors are going to be, and what’s solid and what isn’t.

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What amuses me about the setup is that those floating chairs and rugs and trees actually look really inviting by Second Life standards. They’re exactly the sort of things that people put in public areas of sims to invite people to hang around. Obviously, while you’re having a conversation with another user, it shouldn’t really matter whether your Second Life avatars are actually sitting in chairs and facing each other, and whether the chairs look comfortable and the weather looks nice. Equally obviously it does matter.

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And you cannot get at these comfy chairs and pretty rugs and make your little pretend person sit in them. They are behind a wall. DB Bailey made them, so they might not even be solid. It is criminal.

Look at that clock! That clock’s not solid! You could probably fly right through it! How rude of it!

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But in fact, you can get in. You can even sit on the chairs (though he didn’t put poseballs in them, so you have to do so carefully). But it’s very tricky.

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The “empty space” between the rugs is, in fact, solid floor, as is most of the solid-looking stuff down at the very bottom – but not all of it.

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I have no idea what surface I’m even standing on here.

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The same picture from before with my avatar in it is obviously totally different.

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There is a shiny throne high-up over at the other end of the hall. Obviously one most go up there.

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Because I have my draw-distance set very low to keep from using up too much memory, a lot of the build disappears when I get too far away from it, making the rest open to the sky. I do not know whether this was deliberate, but if not, I advise Mr. Bailey to pretend that it was, and incorporate this feature into his future work.

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Some wings float there in midair, off-center, in a position that makes it difficult to stand in them and pretend they’re yours. The wings are only visible from certain angles. Many things are improved by being visible only from certain angles.

I am abruptly insanely tired and am going to bed now. I will hit “Publish” now, and if there are typos in this I will correct them in the morning, or more probably the afternoon.