Gacha Fever: Second Life Designers Are Dropping Stunning Work-In-Progress Teasers for Upcoming Fashion Event

Pixicat Arcade teaser
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

'Tis the season once again -- for The Arcade, I mean. Second Life's most popular gacha event will open its doors on Monday, June 1st, and designers are already starting to tease the sets they'll be offering in their gacha machines.

My favorite so far has to be the work-in-progress teaser posted above, a set of mesh corsets from Pixicat. Pixicat (both the brand and the designer) are known for clothing and accessories with a lot of detail work that's more than just texture deep. She's a phenomenally talented 3D modeler, and her work is always intricate and costume-like. She takes so much care with every swoop and swirl of her creations that these finished corsets are sure to be a must-have from the upcoming event. I mean, seriously, just look at them.

If you want to know more about The Arcade, keep your eyes on their website. In addition to having an event calendar, group info and all the latest news, it  will be updated with a full catalog of what's available closer to the event's launch. As for Pixicat, you can check out more of her work (eventually including the finished corsets) in her Flickr gallery.

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Don't Dawdle, 21Shoe's Deals on Limited Second Life Footwear Won't Wait for the Weekend

Essenz_051521Shoe_600
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

21Shoe is an event I don't often get the occasion to cover, simply because it's window is too narrow for me to squeeze a post about it into the schedule. It opens on the 21st of every month... And only the 21st. If you miss that 24 hour span then too bad, so sad, because the lovely discounts (and often limited editions) that come with it will soon be out of reach.

This month's lineup has a distinctly summery feel and I've picked a few of my favorite entries to share, so keep reading if you're looking for the perfect pair of virtual shoes to flaunt your avatar's latest mesh pedicure.

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Second Life Content Creators Cashed Out $60M Last Year, Says Linden CEO - Including Someone Making "Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars" Selling Avatar Feet. Yes, Feet.

Dinee_toes

Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg let out a couple fascinating facts about the Second Life economy during his SVVR talk yesterday (video below): Content creators cashed out over $60 million last year by selling their Linden Dollars for good old USD. That might not seem like a lot, but there's about 600,000 regular active users in Second Life, so applying the 80-20 rule, it's safe to estimate 120,000 SLers creating and selling SL content on some level, which comes out to an average of $500 per creator (on a very very rough guess). However, there's probably a lot less than that 120K creating content on a highly active, professional basis. And one of them, Altberg says, is doing extremely well:

"There's a woman in New Zealand who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars making hands and feets for avatars and feeds her family by doing that."

Yes, hands and feets. That's how valuable avatar enhancements can be. Notably, Linden Lab also once reported that a maker of Second Life avatar shoes makes close to $1 million a year

Ebbe's full talk after the break, starting at 39 minutes in:

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I Just Can't Stop Staring at this Stunning Watercolorized Second Life Snapshot

Kala Bijoux Madeline of Pleasure
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'm head over heels for this avatar snapshot Kala Bijoux posted on her Flickr recently. Dubbed "Madeline of Pleasure" this picture is vibrantly colored and incredibly distinctive. I especially like the edges of the image, which fade from dappled color to white like an unfinished watercolor painting. The end result is ridiculously harmonious, what else can I say?

Kala Bijoux's name is a little more familiar for her wing designs than her work on Flickr. She's the designer behind Material Squirrel, a Second Life shop that specializing in meticulously painted avatar wings. Material Squirrel has been around for quite a while now, and takes particular pride in their array of flexible prim wings, rather than using rigid mesh to do the job. This allows her wings to move and bend, meaning that they've retained a popularity that few other flexiprim-based items can claim in SL these days.

if you want to see more of Kala's work, you can check out "Madeline of Pleasure" in all its glory on Flickr, or visit Material Squirrel Wings for yourself on the Second Life Marketplace.

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"You're Being RIPPED": Second Life Designer Challenges Pricey Photosourced Fashions

Agent Provocateur
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The pricing of virtual goods is always a controversial topic, especially when it comes to Second Life fashion. There are two words that can make it even more so: Templates (a topic I've covered to death here on NWN) and photosourcing. Photosourcing in SL fashion generally means using all or part of a photographed image of real clothing to texture your virtual goods, and while the results can look more realistic (but not necessarily 'better') than painstakingly created original textures, photosourcers seldom have the rights to use the photos they use, commercially or otherwise. Sometimes they do have the rights, or they're using assets specifically intended for that purpose. And sometimes they're just window shopping on the Agent Provocateur website, plucking their future releases from among sample images. Many such designers will charge a premium for their work, too. Agent Provocateur may not know it, but they're probably the most popular lingerie designer in all of SL.

Long story short, it's just one more complicated issue that some consumers may not even realize is there.

Roslin Petion (coincidentally the designer behind almost every piece of lingerie I've worn in NWN's sponsored posts for Ample Avi) recently posted a mini-rant on the subject of overpriced photosourced virtual lingerie over on Plurk, and it's too good not to share. Here's what she had to say:

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Say Cheese: Learn How to Make the Perfect Smiling SL Avatar Shape With This Video Tutorial

 
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Here's a handy video tutorial for those of you who like taking shots of your Second Life avatar with anything but the standard sombre expression on their face. Hot off the YouTube presses (they have those, right?) SL fashion and lifestyle blogger Alicia Chenaux walks you through creating the perfect "Smile Shape", which is to say a variation of your regular shape specifically designed to look more natural when using a smiling facial animation.

Alicia Chenaux Smile Shape TutorialIf you're unfamiliar with Second Life's facial expression morphs or the specific way that "smiling" in SL tends to make an avatar's eyes completely vanish, then a Smile Shape might seem unnecessary to you. To avatar photographers including myself who (as Alicia points out) have been stuck blending screenshots of smiling and non-smiling avatar faces together to get something that looks even half-decent, this tutorial is a stroke of brilliance. One of the reasons that mesh heads have becomes so popular with photographers is for their expressions -- not having to deal with the vanilla facial morphs that tend to squish and scrunch an avatar's features has given them a lot more freedom. Even so, there's no replacing your avatar's true face, and anything that can be done to make it more expressive without detracting from its overall... Unscrunchedness... Is helpful.

You can find more from Alicia Chenaux on her blogs, Ch'Know and Ch'Know Style.

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Check Out These Second Life Screenshots Inspired by Popular Video Game Franchises

Serenity Semple MonHun
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The Bare@Rose Flickr group is one of my absolute favorite Second Life fashion groups to peruse on Flickr, simply because the sheer variety of what they sell means that the images submitted to the group are all over the map. There are concept-heavy shots with severe looking models and contrast dialed up to 11, stills of cutesy anime cosplay avatars bounding through pastel fields, and everything in between. Imagine my delight when I took a peek earlier today and spotted not one but two video game-inspired snapshots at the top of the pile. And even though they're both situating Bare@Rose gear in familiar video game backdrops, they couldn't be more different.

Above is Serenity Semple's take on Monster Hunter, a series that generally involves players teaming up to take down massive monsters and harvest ingredients for crafting. It also often involves cooking meat to prepare for battle, though doing it in the middle of a fight is bad form. Serenity arranged shots of avatars alongside familiar MonHun UI elements and scenery, even using the perspective she would have while playing.

Then there's leptitbutton's take on Metal Gear Solid...

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Iris Wants to Know: What Was Subject of Your Last Second Life Inventory Purge?

SLINK mesh hands
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

This weekend I read a Plurk from Second Life user Fanny Willis, who proudly announced that she was deleting ever single pair of prim nails in her inventory. Why? Although plenty of people still wear (and sell) mesh/prim nail enhancements for SL avatars, if you've fully embraced mesh hands you'll know that most now have their own applier systems to handle your manicure. If you do wear your mesh hands all the time it's hard to imagine going back to prim nails for that reason, and so they're an easy candidate for a little spring cleaning.

Most of us have probably done similar purges on our inventories. Finding a whole category of items that have been rendered obsolete is a great way to clean up without having to paw through hundreds (or thousands) of individual items. For me, my last big inventory purge was all my pre-sculpty shoes. Believe it or not I was still holding on to just about every pair, but as good as some of them looked back then they could never hold up to what we wear now. At this point, I could even safely bin all of my pre-mesh sculpty prim shoes too. So all but one or two pairs (souvenirs, you could say) went straight in the trash.

So that's what I want to know: Have you ever binned an entire category of obsolete items from your inventory, and if so what were they? Share your most dramatic fashion purges in the comments below, and maybe you'll even inspire a few virtual pack-rats to clean up their act.

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SL Flickr Streams of the Day: Cool, Contemporary Fashion With Diverse Avatars

Second Life African American fashion avatar

Second Life fashion blogs tend to reflect the real life demographic background of the bloggers, which is a major reason why the avatar fashion models tend to be white and the fashions tend to be more aspirational and fantastic, rather than street-level. Here's a couple Flickr streams that do great job depicting multi-ethnic avatars in contemporary styles -- the kind I see every day here in Silverlake, Los Angeles (with the facial hair to boot!)-- beautifully presented with great use of filters and dynamic lighting.

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Second Life Fashion Bloggers Are Scrambling to Show off LeLutka's Upcoming Release (and I Can See Why)

Nana Minuet LeLutka Aria
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Over the past few days Second Life fashion bloggers have been scrambling to show off the new line of mesh heads that LeLutka will be releasing on April first. Aria, Ever and Leda (as the three available faces are called) have a high fashion look with fairly compressed features and expressions ranging from soft to stern. Apparently these mesh heads are all designed to work only in tandem with mesh bodies, which means that for a lot of us they'll be off the table for now. For others they're all the more appealing, seeming to guarantee an even more seamlessly augmented avatar.

So far no blogger has captured the expressions and elegance of each of these upcoming faces quite as well as Nana Minuet, who put together a post highlighting the upcoming release yesterday. Her shot of Aria, shown above, is easily my favorite of the lot. It's so bright and clean that you could almost expect to find it in a magazine with a perfume sample or some ad copy streaming down the side, rambling about jojoba or CC creams. And that's not a slight against her work. Her pics are vivid and polished, and easily picked out from a crowd.

You can visit Nana's blog to check out the rest in the set, though she doesn't have much to say about any of the heads in question. For that Strawberry Singh's blog post about Aria, Ever and Leda should be your next stop. As for reviews, well, so far most of the bloggers are sticking to the technical details. Expect stronger opinions to emerge after release.

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