So…you’ve clicked on the Second Life link, chosen an avatar, filled in a user name, your email address, date of birth, your memorable question and you’re good to go.
Like your new avatar look? No, me neither. 😉 You look…new!
And these avatars are a marked improvement on the previous ones. I joined as a pony-tailed, pink polka dot dressed girl who walked like she had a stick jammed down the back of her dress. More experienced avatars will know exactly the look I mean!
Fortunately, as it says on the page, ‘you can customise your appearance later’. Which is what we’re about to do!
The reason why I’m offering up this newb special is because, as I’ve already said on the blog, we appear to be ‘breaking out’ of being just an SL naturist blog and crossing over into the RL naturist blogosphere. It’s not something I planned, it has just happened. I know why it has happened; it’s because we’ve blogged on RL naturist events, they’ve been picked up by search engines and thuse we’ve ‘broken out’ a bit.
And I guess that it means there may be people whose interests lie elsewhere maybe ‘breaking in’ to SL. If this is you, maybe you’d never heard of it before. It’s a virtual online world, limited only by your imagination. Want to play ‘Game of Thrones’ virtually? You’ll almost certainly find a sim (a sim being an area of SL designed with suitable architecture and geography) catering for it. In my time I’ve seen several fads in SL. When I began, vampires were all the rage, and there was a game within a game whereby a ‘Bloodlines’ system operated and vampires had to encourage people -particularly newbs like me- to accept bites in order to survive. It was a pain in the ass, from my perspective, fending off uninvited requests to suck my blood. Thankfully, vampires seem much less prevalent now. Nekos were also in abundance at the time, they being humanoid shapes with cat’s tails and ears. They were harmless, and again seem to be much less prevalent
Gor was, and remained, a popular role-play game within the game. Based on the books of John Norman, they were like a parallel universe that had become strangely disconnected from how we understand the real world in the 21st century, but vaguely familiar from the perspective of, say, Tolkein’s Middle Earth fused to medieval attitudes to power and sexual identity. Shades of, say, Cleopatra as a powerful woman running up against Julius Caesar. Who, in a manner of speaking, was wearing the trousers? I observed Gor for a while, but I couldn’t really warm to an overwhelming sense of women as very much the second sex (although supporters of Gor will suggest that some Gorean roles present women as the superior sex). And Gor probably remains popular, although it has fallen off my radar entirely, while being partially supplanted by a similar vein in ‘Game of Thrones’ styled sims.
You see? Second Life will subtly change to reflect RL popular culture.
It also has developed amazingly in the time I’ve been playing it. ‘Mesh’ clothing is now pretty much standard. Two years ago it was a rarity. I’m not a clothes designer, or the builder of anything in SL, but ‘mesh’ certainly pushed forward the boundaries of what was achievable in clothes design. Ditto ‘mesh hair’, and before it ‘flexi hair’ -hair that flowed and moved in a more believable sense- which made the SL experience more real.
‘Furries’, living life as a giant rabbit (shades of ‘Harvey’ here) or other form of animal, was also briefly popular. I once tp’ed into a sim to watch a rabbit and a badger in the middle of a discussion on Foucault. An interesting, to say the least, experience.
I’ve walked on the surface of the moon (and had a fight there with a ‘griefer’), scuba dived, undertaken naked sky-diving, climbed the Eiffel Tower and sat in the trenches of World War 1 in SL. And loads more besides!
But it all comes back to me having these experiences on the journey as a side-show to my original intent in coming into SL. As a RL naturist, I thought it might be somewhere I could meet other RL naturists in a virtual naturist setting and we’d discuss RL restaurants in RL naturist locations, for example, and swap hints and tips for our next naturist holiday. That’s not to say I’ve not had those conversations. It’s just that that’s not the main thrust of SL naturism. But the weather’s wet, windy, dark and miserable tonight. My thoughts of RL naturism are months away. So why not enjoy naturism of a virtual kind? And that’s why I’m here, as are many fellow RL naturists (and non-naturists in RL who explore a different facet of their personality inworld. And whatever lifestyle we explore in SL is often exploration of different aspects of our personalities, not just in the context of naturism.
While I’m going to use this newbie guide as a way of turning out a great looking avatar, for naturist purposes, much of this post -part 1- is equally applicable to non naturists. You’ll still want to have a great looking avatar, even if you keep your clothes on. So don’t go away! If you have strayed here and wish to explore Second Life, I hope you’ll find some of the following advice invaluable.
Meet one of the ‘out of the box’ avatars you can have. Let’s call her ‘Novavivo’, the Esperanto for ‘New Life’. Foxy, eh?
Novavivo is, in the first instance, going to check out the Fab Free blog, and bookmark it. Why? It’s pretty much darned-essential daily reading, as it will update several times a day with a focus on many items available for free! Now, I’m going to utilise free items to give Novavivo a total makeover, and use Fab Free as a starting place. I’m writing this in late February, 2014, so if you chance upon this post in May, or September of 2014, my makeover of Novavivo won’t apply at all, but you’ll certainly find equivalent types of freebies on the Fab Free blog to makeover your own avatar.
From the FAQS & TUTORIALS tab at Fab Free, you’ll also find their ‘30 days list‘. Many designers recognise that you want a terrific looking avatar without a huge spend. After all, you may decide SL isn’t for you at all, so there’s no point in pumping RL money into it to begin with. Indeed, this is exactly what I did in my early SL days. Would I like SL? Was it a brief phase? Over half a decade later, I’m still here, enjoying it more than ever. But that might not be you. Still, while you discover the virtual world, you might as well look good doing it, yes?
And guys, while I’m focussing on Novavivo, the same links and blogs are equally applicable. Guys may also wish to check out the Fashions and Freebies for Men blog, with an emphasis on making a guy avatar look great. Indeed, whatever your chosen SL sex, I’d recommend adding bookmarks for all of these places. After all, a girl can look great in a guy shirt, or a blazer. A guy can look great in a pair of jeans ostensibly designed for girls.
So let’s strip Novavivo down to her bare essentials. Not because it’s a naturist blog…but because you will want to do this anyway and build from the ground up. Ditto for the guys.
My first stop was the Al Vulo skin store. They’ve been around a long time, and do great group gifts. You can join their group for nothing (just explore the sim until you see the ‘group joiner’ point, click it, then grab the current group gift. (Note, SL changes quickly, so they may not be in the same location in some months time. Use the ‘search’ tab to look for them, or any other links, if they’ve moved).
Okay. I’ve now stripped Novavivo completely of her clothes. ‘Hang on’, I hear you say, ‘I can clearly see her underwear!’ That’s right. You can. In the wonderful world of Second Life, because there was a historical PG element to the game, which under 18s could play before progressing to the adult version, no ‘out of the box’ avatar is ever nude. You’ll need to apply a ‘bought’ (in this case ‘bought for free’) skin to her before she will appear naked. Male avatars are similarly stuck with a pair of underpants until you undertake the same application of a new skin.
So, let’s apply a new skin, the one we’ve picked up from Al Vulo, to Novavivo and see how she looks.
Better? I think so. An immediately prettier face, as well as realistic nipples and genitals. Guys, please note that new SL male avatars are born without male genitalia, which in the course of the dressing/undressing process need to be added and subtracted depending on whether you want your ‘package’ on display or not 🙂 I’ll show you fellas, later on, where to pick up a properly realistic penis, for no cost (albeit a unit that is ‘non functioning’, i.e. you can’t make it erect as with the genitalia you can buy. Still, if you’re wandering around naturist sims, a realistic looking penis is probably a must).
What do you think about Novavivo, shape wise? She looks OK, I think, but we can adjust many elements of her look in the ‘appearance’ tabs on your controls. This isn’t something I think you need to overly concern yourselves with, as newbies, right now. As such, I’ll leave that element of changing her look to the last, and stick with her ‘out of the box’ shape for now. Ultimately, I’m going to make her taller, with slimmer hips, and probably with breasts that sit lower on her chest, but for now, she’s fine.
One thing you are, as a newbie -or even experienced grid-crawler- going to struggle with is great looking free hair. While free skins are in abundance via the likes of Fab Free, or various group gifts at stores, hair is a different matter. Finding a style you like can define an avatar. Finding it free is almost impossible! That’s not to put you off though. There are still great free gifts around. Maybe not in your intended colour or style, but out there, if you know where to look.
I’ve popped some clothes onto Novavivo while I took her shopping, and picked up the Subscribo gift at Truth Hair (you don’t join a group as such, but subscribe to group notices being sent to you, which includes news of new store items, and occasional gifts. The style above was available in February 2014, but may have changed by the time you read this). Her clothes, incidentally, are ‘female average jeans’ and ‘designer shirt’ you’ll find in the inventory we all receive at SL birth. I don’t think much of the shirt, myself, but I still think the jeans look more than fine.
OK. That should give you enough food for thought for one evening. Remember…you can pick up many further free skins, clothes, hair and so on via the Fab Free ’30 days’ link (for males and females).
I’ll pick this up again tomorrow evening, firstly by quickly doing a similar process with a male avatar (including add-on genitals) before we let things ‘simmer’ for a little while.
Tomorrow, too, we’ll examine AO’s (animation over-riders) which can give you a sexier walk, and some sense of animated standing too, before digging into the wonderful world of freebie stores (which while providing many outfits that now look a little ‘dated’ in their design, can usefully help fill your inventory -which is essentially your ‘wardrobe’.
See you then! 🙂
PS If I’ve not explained anything clearly, check the Fab Free links, which essentially walk you through the process of getting a new avatar up and running, or ask a question in the box below. I’ll try to answer any queries prior to moving on.