My (fairly) recent journeying around and about SL13B was certainly not quite the enjoyable experience I’ve experienced in previous years, however now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the event, I’ve been able to derive a certain amount of positivity from it.
One thing that has struck me in retrospect is that prims are still very much alive and kicking, which gives me some hope for the perpetuation of creativity for the masses in SL. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t plenty of mesh in evidence at the celebration – of course there was – but equally, I was pleasantly surprised at just how many of the builds were created from old school prims, something that I’m very much an advocate for.
I don’t want you to think that I’m some sort of mesh Luddite – I’m not one of those who proclaim ‘mesh… Over my dead body!’, if anything, I think mesh can be awesome, especially when it comes to building, where really good mesh can be far superior to traditional building methods in so many ways. Even so, I’m far from holding the opinion that prims are dead and I think they fulfil an incredibly important role in sustaining the creative ethos of SL.
Building with prims is such an intuitive and straightforward process that pretty much anyone can do it ‘straight out of the box’ – if you can be creative with building blocks or Lego in RL, you’ll have no problem building with prims inworld. That is a fundamental principle which underpins freedom of creativity in SL – it is accessible, simple and requires little in the way of preexisting skills to master the basics. That’s not to say that skills aren’t required to build well, using prims, but these are skills that can be developed over time, and they are by no means essential for getting started.
The second, and unique, benefit of prims over other creative methods, is that they are an inworld process. It’s entirely possible to build a whole project from scratch without ever leaving the confines of the viewer… Objects, linksets, and textures, can all be tackled within the client, without the need to resort to an external application or ever leave the safe and familiar environment of SL.
The third, and I think essential, selling point of building with prims is that it provides a springboard to development of more extensive creative skills. Whilst it is certainly possible to create a whole project entirely inworld and employing only SL resources, the more adventurous user isn’t limited to those basics. In striving for better textures, creators may begin to experiment with Photoshop or Gimp; whilst the quest for greater realism may prompt them to dabble with Blender or similar – eventually they may graduate from prims to mesh and develop expertise in 3D modelling, and who knows what other creative and technical disciplines as a result… Scripting, animation, commerce – anything is possible for the ambitious and the talented!
As for the (equally, but differently talented) rest of us, we still have our prims, and because we do, there’s nothing to stand in our way when it comes to making our virtual world fit us perfectly. And the more we practice, the more we learn, and the better we become.
I like mesh, but I also like prims, and I’m pretty sure that if we didn’t have prims at our disposal, few people would ever eventually rise to the not inconsiderable challenge of creating with mesh, and the virtual world would be a far emptier and much less interesting place. So, long may they continue – and don’t ever be tempted to look down on prims as a second rate method of creating, because without them I’m convinced that creativity in SL would suffer greatly and it would be much the lesser for it.
I was left to my own devices
Many days fell away with nothing to show
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Bastille – Pompeii