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Tuesday, October 21, 2014


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Crappy question to an extent cause there is no one answer.

How skilled is the creator? Are they new, been doing it for years or somewhere in between?

How complex is the item they are making? A simple headband, complete outfit, highly detailed shoes, fully furnished house, couch, decor, jewelry, etc.

How well do they know the software they are using? Do they know it inside and out, or experimenting with something new to expand their skills?

Do they have a clear vision of what they are wanting the final item to look like? If so, how good are the reference images they are working with? Are they sketching out the reference images themselves? If they don't have a clear vision then working out the final product can change so many times along the way.

Does it need to be rigged? How good are their rigging skills?

If it's something worn, how many sizes do they need to make? Fitted, standard sizes, child avatars, etc...

Does it need to be scripted? How good are their scripting skills, or do they already have a script system that they can just modify for this particular item.

How good are their texturing skills?

Do they hand draw all textures or do they already have a library of some base textures that they have made previously to pull from?

How many variations of the item do they ultimately end up with?

Product pictures, do they use a standard template for the vendors, or do they do something different for each item?

Packaging, if it's something complex can take a while. Plus included in this would be writing up any instructions that might be needed. Directions on how to modify, use HUD's, etc.

This isn't even an exhaustive list of what goes into things. It's just a few of the different factors. All of which can take the length of time from just a few hours, up to easily weeks to months of work depending on the answers from each designer and even depending on the type of item they are making.

Damien Fate

A difficult question to answer, even though I've been creating content in SL for over 10 years I never really tend to work on a single thing at any one time...

For example, running three clothing stores and attempting to release a line of items every week has me working on several items at once at different stages of completion. This task gets even more complicated when you throw events into the mix.

I'd say that I generally take two weeks to produce an item, but how much time in those two weeks were spent on that one item is hard to say as it gets lumped in with up to 20 or so items I may be working on at that point in time.

My release schedule, which I have on the desk next to me has releases planned for many months in advance, so does that also count as creation time? Maybe I'm not the best person to answer this question XD

Tya Fallingbride

I really do believe there is a disconnect between what people think and the reality of how long it takes.

I tend to calculate my time by hours as I believe most creators do. I have been creating since I joined SL back in 2003. Anywhere from shoes, clothing, complete sims and now currently focusing on home and garden, as where I find my most joy in the creative process.

Ultimately time is determined by skill level, complexity and detail. Now for someone to say " if their good it should only take a few hours." That is far from the truth. Most creators I know are working on their PC 15 - 18hrs per day, 6 days a week, creating items for one event.

This involves from start to finish:

Research - theme, style, modeling techniques
UV Mapping
Light Set Up - several light set ups are involved - from a basic spec to special fxs lighting - when you get into more complex lighting effects, its not uncommon that you can spend 20 hrs or more. The creator has a vision.
Ambient Occlusion Maps
Ray Trace Maps
Bump Mapping
Normal Mapping
Displacement Mapping
Specular Mapping
Testing Maps - rinse and repeat until you get what you are looking for
Upload in world - testing ; rinse and repeat
Texture work - photoshop, combining all the maps you have created into your base texture
More Testing - texture work. How are the textures sitting on the mesh, how are your seams. Are you overall pleased with your progress.
Final Upload - you are happy with your textures and model- YAY! light at the end of the tunnel
Texturing : applying all those textures...
Scripting - do you have adult animations, pg animations or object related or all 3? that alone can take 12hrs or more just to set up and get working the way you want.
Packaging - this is when you realize you have made to many versions and or colors.
Vendor Pictures - this is where having a vendor template comes in handy
Store/Event Set Up
Promotion - through various avenues

Now add rigging if you are making anything that involves the avatar bones. I have seen many items that are bone heated. Is this right, no. Rigging, is a process that the creator needs to sit and take time with. The last pair of boots I released were rigged, I spent over 35 hours alone on the rigging, just because I wanted the best bend and overall look to the boots with avatar movement and bending. Proper rigging will make or break an item in my opinion.

Two years ago, I created a complete sim. all in mesh, that job was over 1000hrs. The Pixel Bean Cafe took over 250 hours and it wasn't a complex build. That was several years ago. If I were to redo it today, it would take longer because of the techniques I have learned along the way.

The average creator spends a minimum 75hrs, from start to finish.

Izzy Heart

If I am making a simple piece of mesh, usually it takes 3 days. One day for the mesh model, one day for textures, and one day for uploading, packaging, taking ad pictures, etc. But if I am making something new and difficult and I have to watch tutorials, then it may take several more days than that. At most a week, I'd say. But my stuff is not nearly as complex as what many people make.


Like Tya, I have dipped into may arenas over my decade in SL but I will just talk about the last 2 years or so making mesh homes.

My process is a bit simplified from Tya's as I dont "bake" my textures for my homes but the process is about the same. Here is what my average work flow looks like for a house:

Research - I sometimes spend quite a bit of time researching before I make a house. I have even on occasion visited a home or place in RL to get a feel for a style (for the Carraway Bungalow I actually had the opportunity to tour a beautiful Craftsman that I found listed online near where I live.) At the very least I shift through saved reference images, and usually search for more to get some ideas for textures, features, details etc

Planning - I still often make at least a rough layout sketch in SL with prims so I can get a feel for rooms, space, navigation and such. SL prims are still great for quick dirty planning like that. It helps me work out any problems in the layout before I sink too much time into the detail modeling.

Modeling - From there I usually get started on the modeling in Blender. This is the bulk of the work for me. Because of my style of mesh homes I usually plan textures and do UV mapping as I model so this is all rolled into one for me. Some time is saved by carrying over assets from other homes - you may have noticed some homes share the same doors, door frames, knobs, windows etc with other homes.

Refinement - after initial modeling often a significant amount of time is spent optimizing the build for uploading into Second Life. Creating logical segments keeping in mind Level Of Detail (LOD) and physics issues that might come up. Different LOD and physics models may need to be created for a substantial percentage of the build - up to 3 levels of detail and a physics model for some parts. This keeps a house looking house-like from a distance without eating up all your prims! This is essential - this is how you can create a 4 bedroom 2 bathroom home with a respectable level of detail for only 85 prims (carraway bungalow again, my best selling model).

Uploading - not as simple as just pulling in world, usually there is an initial upload of what I call a placement model then I re-upload pieces (again a substantial portion of the house) that need custom LOD and Physics models. I often put some preliminary textures on as well to test mapping and see if anything needs fixed while I am uploading again. Sometimes parts have to be redone if I cant get the LOD, physics, or prim count to work out how I hoped.

Texturing - I admit I have got somewhat lazy with texturing, often reusing basics from house to house. Fortunately I have a lot of great base textures I have made in past years that I can pull from. However most homes need a custom texture or two or at least some tweaks to colors and such for the feel I wanted. I have found that many people who buy my mesh homes are interested in personalizing them so I usually don't do anything too detailed.

Scripting - I am very lucky to have a great complete house system made by a friend that is fairly painless and quick to install. But this is still a step.

Photos - I share a sandbox sim with some friends and we have a corner ready to go for photos with plants and props and stuff off to the side, which is a huge time saver but nice pictures do take time to set up! I often try to take at least 4 good exterior and 4+ good interior shots of a house. Luckily since its good to give an accurate impression there is no post processing on my vendor images. For better or worse they are all raw shots from SL into vendor templates.

Vendor Set up - I use caspervend which is pretty easy and i would recommend to others

store set up - for me this usually always means an in world display of the home. I have been trying to be better about landscaping displays nicely but time doesn't always permit

promotion - for me this includes a short blog post and notecard(s), flickr, plurk, in world groups, in world subscriber list, and sometimes more depending on if its a special event

updates and fixes - with content creation more complicated than ever more and more most creators find themselves needing to fix and update things at some point - I myself consider it a huge miracle if at some point a product doesn't need an update implemented. This can in some instances knock you back starting from the early steps all the way through needing new pictures and packaging to reflect the changes.

All said and done, I would say a house, depending on the complexity and size, can span anywhere from 40-80 hours from the first stages of figuring out what I am making through you being able to click "buy" on it in my shop or at an event.

Pussycat Catnap

I fear a lot of answers in the first question were answered not by/as consumers, but by content creators or consumers reflecting on their own attempts at content creation (as was my answer).

I'm tempted to be off-topic in this one too and post my opinion not based on my own attempts - but my opinions of observing friends who are successful content creators in SL/InWorldz... :)

Tempted, but I'll refrain - other than to say actual content creators from the first post might want to come back for this one.

Cube Republic

It take me from a hours to a few weeks. I work on several things at once that I plan on releasing all in one go under a common theme. First I make a mood board of images and vibes I wish to capture. After that I make very basic pencil drawings of elements. This is just to give me a block out, or it may contain diagrams of how I'm going to solve a particular problem. I'll work on one thing for a few days if it's a large piece, then take time out and work on smaller things. A lot of time is spent waiting for stuff to render. For example a texture can take 20mins and I might need 10 of them. We're also talking 8-18 hr days depending on how locked into something I get.

It's taken me several years of self-learning to reach a point where I'm happy with my pipeline and output.

McChris Flanagan

I'm not one to give long answers but I'll give my two cents. First there really isn't a definite answer to this question . Like Cara said it depends on the person and how well they know the software. Me personally , it usually takes me a day for most projects but they aren't large projects that require weeks or months. However for anyone to say it takes everyone a couple hours has lost their mind.. I'm sure some projects can go that quickly .. but that's not the normal.

Aurelia Chauveau

I've been creating things in SL since day one about 5 years ago. I opened a store about 3 years ago. 3 years ago a pair of system pants with sculpted parts would take 16-18 hours before I boxed them up/set it up at the store and took pictures of them. These days I take a lot longer, I put more details in my designs, I have more idea of what I am doing and I am much better than I was 3 years ago. I'm far from perfect, and I think my process for designing changes every month or so as I'm still working out the best pipelines. I think I could take anywhere between 60 and 80 hours with modelling/uv texturing/rigging/standard sizes/rendering/texturing/uploading and testing in SL before I would start boxing them up and photography for my store.

Adeon Writer

Scripting is the most time consuming. While i can pump out a texture ir model in a day, big script projects can span weeks.

Annie Melson

Cara and Tya said it all very perfectly for me. It all depends on what the item is. For me it takes on average 2 weeks, but I also have already started on planning the next project while in the midst of the current project. I never have a break in the creating time. I'm constantly working on something. I have worked on something for over a month because I refuse to release anything until I'm satisfied, and many have told me I am too hard on myself. But I can't release something I'm not pleased with. It may take me longer, but I shoot for quality over quantity. If that means spending a solid 2 days tweaking the weight painting at the curve of the arm, then so be it. Because of this, it is greatly frustrating when I get IMed by consumers thinking I take too long releasing items, or expecting me to give away things. If they only knew how much went into the items I make. Everything from start to finish has to be created, and creation takes time. Everything I make is original. But the steps involved? Just like Cara and Tya said. Honestly, if I broke down the amount of money I make for the time I spent making it.... I'd probably make more working at McDonald's.

Shockwave Yareach

I make whatever I feel like making. From particle beach life running between rocks to the Bellagio fountains. If lots of folks in my group ooh and ah, I put it out for sale.

Or I used to. Since LL has loused the world up so much, and they claim they now own what I create, they can build their own d@@@ stuff!

Time? It varies from project to project, the complexity, and how much of my diminishing free time is available.

Tiffy Vella

Impossible to answer with any accuracy. You are looking for a number, and I can't measure my working hours like that. I take pencils and paper with me whenever I am away from my PC, travelling, just to sketch general ideas. Then often, the events that I'm participating in give some of those rough sketches some purpose and direction, and designing in Blender begins. I'm usually creating things for events several months in advance. There's lots of sitting, pondering, turning an object about in Blender to judge it from every angle. That's always been impossible for beancounters to appreciate; they never want to understand the "sitting, thinking, assessing" time that designers of anything must do, despite it being a very neccessary part of the process.
Each stage is enjoyable, and I try to do it as well as I can.
I can only give the answer I give to my daughter whenever she asks how long something will be- "It will be ready when it is ready."

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