Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tree Branch Top Textures Volumes 5 and 6

Click to Enlarge 



















Click to enlarge 






















Following the apparent popularity of the earlier versions of the tree branch textures I have created two more collections.

11 textures in each collection size 1024 x 1024 pixels priced 1000 Linden Dollars per collection.

Available now from the Second Life Marketplace  as well as the TRU Textures in-world store which you can visit by clicking this link

They will also be available from the TRU Textures official website  and from my personal texture store in Avination.com.



Sunday, 29 May 2011

"Burlesque” Black & Red Damask Wallpaper Textures

Click To Enlarge 
This was  a quick custom request I did a few mornings ago.

The customer needed Black and Red bold print Damask wallpapers for his client whom he was building a club for.

We had some, but none were bold enough for him so I whipped these up using brushes and gradients.

26 x 1024 x 1024 pixel tiling textures some with wall light effects all, black and red.
They tile on both axis.

If they prove to be popular I may release them in different colours but if these red and back ones tickle your fancy they can be purchased for 400 Linden Dollars (now) from the TRU Textures store in secondlife.com
by clicking this link: 

Click to Enlarge.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Geometric Marble Tile Textures- Volume Two

Click to enlarge
Following on from the first collection , I have made a second collection which can be found on the SL Marketplace 

I have not made a 3D professional version  with this version, (Bump maps included)

This is: 14 x 2D tiling textures size 1024 x 1024 Pixels. They tile on both axis.

The collection can also be found from the TRU Textures store in  Second Life by clicking this link 






SAMPLE - Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Identity Theft .. bogus email from “eBay”

Now, I know two people who are saying to themselves: (and anyone who gives a crap)
“Pffft! Who would want her identity?! I wouldn’t !!  (+!!!!!)  I would rather soil my pants!” and other juvenile BS but  apparently someone did.

Of course I am talking about my real ID not my “handle”

I was stupid enough two weeks ago to respond to an email from Ebay which informed me that under section 4.5 of blah blah blah,  my account was suspended (Or would be) if I didn’t verify my ID and to do so I should:  “Click this link”

The link took me to what looked exactly like an eBay page where I eagerly added my bank card number and the 3 little digits on the back.

At this point I was wondering why eBay needed my card details,  I use PayPal after all, but in fear of account suspension under The Consumerism Act 1989, Section 4.5 ... blah blah blah, I just filled it in and hit enter.

Then, two days later I got another email, same thing, and I thought....”Hold on a minute!” and proceeded to call eBay to confirm what I already knew and that was, that they would not, under any circumstances, ask for customers bank info.... (dumb ass!)

Of course they wouldn’t. What WAS I thinking? Too late, already, too late.

I stopped my bank card and changed my eBay password but eBay was of no interest to them as it turns out because this morning I got a letter in the post from British Telecom informing me that my business broadband account had been activated. (?)

I had not used BT for over 3 years, so I phoned them and they informed me someone had opened the account on the 16th May 2011 with the email address of hingerita@btconnect.com

I closed the bogus account down but I know this is the start of probably months of this kind of crap all at a cost to me by being left on hold on 0845 telephone numbers.

I tried to check my online banking to see if there was any unusual activity but at the log in page was told to telephone the bank and denied access.

I phoned and was then told someone had tried to either gain access to my account or attempted to use my account card fraudulently.

It was pretty serious as normally, you verify your ID with a series of questions and answers over the phone and they activate everything for you again but this time,  I had to take some photographic evidence to a branch and until such time I had no access to my account and any associated cards were on hold.

At the bank, the clerk showed me my account on the PC screen which displayed around nine transactions they had declined, seven of them were not mine.

A few for the Auto Trader website and one for BT, which corresponded with the letter I had got this morning.

The weird thing is, this was done on the new card I had ordered after I had cancelled my original card (which I had willingly sent the details of) following the eBay incident, so I have no idea how they gained access to my new bank card and the clerk, for obvious reasons wasn’t forth coming with the “hows and whys"

I am awaiting my new “new" card in the post and the next line of action is to check my credit history with Experion.com which I suspect will reveal a lot of recent credit applications that I had nothing to do with..

After 10 years on the net you would have thought I wouldn’t have fallen for a trick as old as this, but I did.

Identity Theft .. bogus email from “eBay”

Now, I know two people who are saying to themselves: (and anyone who gives a crap)
“Pffft! Who would want her identity?! I wouldn’t !!  (+!!!!!)  I would rather soil my pants!” and other juvenile BS but  apparently someone did.

Of course I am talking about my real ID not my “handle”

I was stupid enough two weeks ago to respond to an email from Ebay which informed me that under section 4.5 of blah blah blah,  my account was suspended (Or would be) if I didn’t verify my ID and to do so I should:  “Click this link”

The link took me to what looked exactly like an eBay page where I eagerly added my bank card number and the 3 little digits on the back.

At this point I was wondering why eBay needed my card details,  I use PayPal after all, but in fear of account suspension under The Consumerism Act 1989, Section 4.5 ... blah blah blah, I just filled it in and hit enter.

Then, two days later I got another email, same thing, and I thought....”Hold on a minute!” and proceeded to call bay to confirm what I already knew and that was, that they would not, under any circumstances, ask for customers bank info.... (dumb ass!)

Of course they wouldn’t. What WAS I thinking? Too late, already, too late.

I stopped my bank card and changed my eBay password but eBay was of no interest to them as it turns out because this morning I got a letter in the post from British Telecom informing me that my business broadband account had been activated. (?)

I had not used BT for over 3 years, so I phoned them and they informed me someone had opened the account on the 16th May 2011 with the email address of hingerita@btconnect.com

I closed the bogus account down but I know this is the start of probably months of this kind of crap all at a cost to me by being left on hold on 0845 telephone numbers.

I tried to check my online banking to see if there was any unusual activity but at the log in page was told to telephone the bank and denied access.

I phoned and was then told someone had tried to either gain access to my account or attempted to use my account card fraudulently.

It was pretty serious as normally, you verify your ID with a series of questions and answers over the phone and they activate everything for you again but this time,  I had to take some photographic evidence to a branch and until such time I had no access to my account and any associated cards were on hold.

At the bank, the clerk showed me my account on the PC screen which displayed around nine transactions they had declined, seven of them were not mine.

A few for the Auto Trader website and one for BT, which corresponded with the letter I had got this morning.

The weird thing is, this was done on the new card I had ordered after I had cancelled my original card (which I had willingly sent the details of) following the eBay incident, so I have no idea how they gained access to my new bank card and the clerk, for obvious reasons wasn’t forth coming with the “hows and whys"

I am awaiting my new “new" card in the post and the next line of action is to check my credit history with Experion.com which I suspect will reveal a lot of recent credit applications that I had nothing to do with..

After 10 years on the net you would have thought I wouldn’t have fallen for a trick as old as this, but I did.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

3D Geometric Tiled Marble Textures - Bump Maps Included

40 Texture Maps In Total.
I have released these new marble tile textures for use in 3D applications such as Blender and 3DMax  by including Specular, Displacement and Normal maps.

They are available as 2D “User Ready” textures also (No bump maps)

3D Collection (40 texture maps) cost 1000 Linden Dollars.

2D Collection (10 textures) cost 400 Linden Dollars.

For use in Second Life,  they can be purchased from our in world store by clicking this link.




Or they can be purchased from the Second Life Marketplace by clicking this link for the 3D professional collection and this link for the 2D User Ready collection.

They will be available from the TRU Website, contentparadise.com and iSourceTextures.com soon.

Click to enlarge. 

Marble Tile Floor Textures - Work In Progress

Click to enlarge
So, I decided to go with Marble instead of wood, I couldn’t find the right type of wood I envisioned.
I wanted rough, unfinished wood with lots of knots and markings.

The beauty is I have about 40 different patterns to work with and thousands of base materials to mix and match.

I removed the border (mentioned in the last post) and worked a way to make them seamless on both axis.

I like how this one turned out and on this collection I will be creating specular, displacement and normal maps to go with the diffuse (colour) texture you see here.

I am adding bump maps as I feel these will be very versatile and could be used within architectural visualisation in 3D software, I think (?)

I’ll create 10 of this pattern and the move onto another and perhaps stone or slate or even wood if I can make some that works well.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Plaster Walls With Exposed Brick Textures Now Available

Each Texture Tiles With Others From The Same Pack
I am lost somewhere between Poser plants and Photoshop 2D textures at the moment.

You know the saying: “Its like learning to ride a bike...”?... Well, it’s nothing like that with digital art.
Sure the basics stick but when I haven’t  tinkered in Photoshop for weeks it takes hours or days to get back into the flow of it again.

These exposed brick wall textures were the best I could come up with today.

They’re OK and I may be surprised to find they’re popular but personally, as a critique of my own work, they’re not my best.

That’s a good sales pitch isn’t it?! lol


One thing I have done which makes them kind of special is made them seamless “as a collection”
By that, I mean, each texture from the collection will tile with any of the other textures.

Here’s one up close:
Click to enlarge. 




















There are 18 textures which tile on both axis and sized 1024 x 1024 pixels.

For use in Secondlife.com they can be purchased for L$500 for the 18 piece collection which also includes a plain plaster and plain brick.

They are available from the TRU Textures in world store in Second Life, click this link to see them in SL

And, as always, they’re available from the Second Life Marketplace for the same price.
You can see them by clicking this link.

You can get and use them for Avination.com for C$400 from my little “mini TRU”  which has a small collection of my newer stuff that I am very slowly developing by adding older collections which I only have in SL.
I know that may seem insane but there are other places where they are stored like in the servers for the TRU website so I am not too worried about loosing them.

I run an iMac and the tool that makes transferring your stuff from SL to other grids is not supported by Mac so I have to literally pick a collection from SL, download them to my PC then upload them to AVN, sort the perms out and slap them on a wall.

I don’t spend enough time in AVN to market or manage my little store sadly.
I was explaining to Melanie (the owner) that the admin I have to do these days to keep an income is insane.

Long gone are the days when all I had to do was “create, upload, rinse and repeat
Now, I have a growing number of platforms and websites to upload to and each one of them need a contact sheet (preview image) which differs in style, size and design depending on the requirements of each website.

I sell from TRU in Second Life, TRUs website (which is taken care of by Elizabeth Tinsley thankfully)  the Second Life Marketplace, Avination.com, iSourceTextures.com, Contentparadise.com, and occasionally Flatpyramid.com with more being added all the time.

I spend 7 hours making a collection and another 7 hours putting them “out there”

I read an article about a stock photo merchant who sells micro stock photographs on places like
iStock.com (The name is where we got “iSourceTextures” from lol )
He makes millions of dollars and he says the biggest PITA is the time spent uploading to different sites so he employed an “uploader” OK for some eh?

Anyway, what has come out of todays Photoshop messing is the idea to create some wood and/or marble Geometric pattern inlay floor textures.

I have started playing an hour ago and this is what I have got so far:

First Basic Draft - New Texture Collection.




















This is far from how the final texture will look.

The problem when working with the Bevel blending styles is the edge of the texture is also bevelled meaning when repeated there will be a seam.

So I have two choices, either do post work to erase the seam (which can double the time it takes me to make the texture) OR do as I have above, and add a border which itself is beveled so it becomes one big tile.

I am not happy with the last option, so I will probably end up doing the post work and erasing the seams once I flatten the layers.

I have bought a CD full of Geometric patterns so I hope to release a quality collection of different patterned wood and marble/stone floor textures soon.

Friday, 20 May 2011

TRU Textures Soon to be launched on 3DRender.co.uk

3DRender.co.uk - Current Website
Recently, I “linked" with one of my clients, Tim from 3DRender.co.uk  in Linkedin.com and later began chatting to him about the texture business in general and the state of the economy.

During our communications I had mentioned how swamped down I was with admin and uploads to the various third party websites I am, or will be uploading my own texture work to.
Much to my surprise and honour (genuinely) Tim asked if I would be interested in selling from his new website which was currently being built.

I was a little taken back.

This was a person I had sought out 3 years ago and pitched my meagre SL based store to.
This was a man whom I looked up to “because” of his brand on the net.

I had to double check he knew what he was suggesting,  so I sent him a URL link to my stuff on Contentparadise.com and he replied he felt I had a lot of “good stuff” both on CP and other third party websites he had noticed iSourceTextures.com and TRU textures (my own personal) products.

It’s surreal to me because in my eyes, I still hold Tim and his company on a pedestal.

Up until 3 years ago, all I had to show was a store in Second Life.
Not a “real” pressence on the internet.

There is a massive gap between a SL business and a “real” business even if your SL business is generating a healthy profit. There will always be that “virtual verses real” divide. This is changing and fast.

Were once TRU was the only SL based texture business to have its own website, now other texture artists have had their own websites built and offer extended licenses... (It was bound to happen, its human nature to replicate another companies perceived success or good idea)

So instead of real business moving into Second Life, its now the other way around, companies born in SL are now launching onto the internet.

I think, this only really applies to textures as textures are something that are used universally and on many platforms and in many types of applications unlike SL fashion content for example.

So, to be invited to display my own work on one of the websites I had looked up to (and still do) is a massive compliment.

3DRender.co.uk is not a third party website like Renderosity.com or Turbosquid.com he is an independent site that has only ever sold his own work and that’s why I am so flattered.

Its one thing to send your artwork into an agent based website to be sold along side thousands of other artists, and quite another to be privately invited to sell on someones own independent website.

Tim is having a new SEO friendly site built and should be ready in June at which time I will start uploading texture collections both he and I consider relative to his target market.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Game Release SHATTERED ORIGINS - GUARDIANS OF UNITY


Launch Trailer - SHATTERED ORIGINS - GUARDIANS OF UNITY NOW OUT!

I can’t recall how I met Kay, I think it may have been on Devientart.com.

He uploaded some cool sci-fi game textures to Second Life and sold them through the TRU store.

I knew he was studying some genre of game development and I also knew he was involved in the very early stages of a game he and others were working on.

What I didn’t know was just how bloody advanced that game would turn out to be.

Kay announced its release and availability on Facebook a few weeks ago and so I went to take a peek at the official website, Desura.

I won’t lie when I say how surprised I was when I watched the video.

Shattered Origins,  as far as I am concerned is very professionally put together both in terms of graphics (of which Kay was involved in) and game play.

I don’t play many action games, but I did spend a few months playing and enjoying Eve Online.
I would say, at least on the surface,  the two are equals.

Summary: Superb graphics, similar game play to Eve Online but at a fraction of the price (£12.99) which is around what a good iPad game would set you back, in other words..loose change.
It costs nothing to try the demo.

Try the demo for free!

Adele - Someone Like You




There’s nothing like the feeling when you're listening to a song, written by someone you don't know who manages to describe exactly how you felt at a particular time in your life....” 

I first heard this song at the Brit Awards (as per this video) and that introduction described exactly how I felt as I listened to the lyrics...

The time I refer to has been and gone...  thank God. 


I heard that your settled down.
That you found a girl and your married now.
I heard that your dreams came true.
Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you.

Old friend, why are you so shy?
It ain't like you to hold back or hide from the lie.

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited,
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I hoped you'd see my face & that you'd be reminded,
That for me, it isn't over.

Nevermind, I'll find someone like you.
I wish nothing but the best for you too.
Don't forget me, I beg, I remember you said:
'Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead'
Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead, yeah.

You'd know how the time flies.
Only yesterday was the time of our lives.
We were born and raised in a summery haze.
Bound by the surprise of our glory days.
I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited,
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I hoped you'd see my face & that you'd be reminded,
That for me, it isn't over yet.

Nevermind, I'll find someone like you.
I wish nothing but the best for you too.
Don't forget me, I beg, I remember you said:
'Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead', yay.

Nothing compares, no worries or cares.
Regret's and mistakes they're memories made.
Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?

Nevermind, I'll find someone like you.
I wish nothing but the best for you too.
Don't forget me, I beg, I remembered you said:
'Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead'

Nevermind, I'll find someone like you.
I wish nothing but the best for you too.
Don't forget me, I beg, I remembered you said:
'Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead'
Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead, yeah.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Palm Tree Top Branches & Palm Frond Textures for Sculpted Trees - Second Life

Click to view full size.

The texture collections I have been working on are now ready.

Firstly,  I made the Palm tree top textures for use with existing sculpted or prim tree trunks in Second Life and Avination.com

29 high resolution palm tree top textures with various perspective views including “top down” and matching ground shadows.

As the preview displays, I broke the branches down into “layers” allowing the builder the ability to create more realism.
Admittedly, you would need to use more prims, but its an option and not a rule.

1024 x 1024 pixels, priced L$1000 ($4.56) for the 29 piece collection.

You can also get them direct from TRU Textures in world store in Secondlife.com

They are also available from the Second Life Marketplace too.

And of course, for use in other grids such as Avination.com, IMVU.com, Twinity.com Bluemars.com and other virtual worlds, you can buy them from the TRU Website under the “Any World” license.

(They,  along with other textures can be purchase for additional types of use not associated with virtual worlds under the “Professional license”)

And finally, as the most time consuming part of the creation of the Palm tree top textures was making the actual palm fronds, (which were applied to the models that I rendered in Poser 8) I decided to also release them as a separate texture collection.

Some-one has already purchased both sets and explained the separate frond textures can be applied to her trees as additional branches and with the correct flexi settings, have them swaying in the wind which would can add a lot more realism to the end product.

Here they are:

Click to view full size





















20 x high resolution Palm tree frond/branch textures priced at L$750 ($3.50)

They can be found in our store in Second Life and the Second Life Marketplace  and again like the Palm tree top textures they are also available from the TRU Textures website.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Palm Tree Branch Top & Shadow Textures - Second Life

Fat Pack 50 Palm Tree Top Textures. 

I have been working on the palm tree branch textures today from 11am till 11.30 (give or take the odd hour for food and toilet breaks!)

So I have decided to bundle the full collection in one mega pack which will include full tree tops, partial tops (like just the peak) as well as “top down” views of the tree too.

I am not sure if these different layers will be of any use in Second Life as I don’t build but it won’t hurt to include them.

I managed to work out how to export the ground shadow taken from the perspective of light shining down through the branches.

I was asked 3 months ago if I could make “tops only” with the ground shadows by a customer who purchased the full (trunk included) palm tree textures from the TRU website for use in Avination.

But at that time I had literally just started playing with Poser Debute so it was all alien to me. Since then, I have bought Poser 8 and downloaded DAZ studio and so now 100 hours later I can make what he was desperate for.

I need to learn how to make sculpted maps now. It would be great to offer them as a full package but for now I am still reverse engineering. Creating the maps for ready made  models and I am learning a lot so I hope in a month or so I will be able to try Xfrog and start to make my own plant models and meshes..shame it’s only available for Windows OS :(

Anyway, I hope to have the entire 50 or so textures uploaded and available for purchase by the end of the week.

Here’s a sample of one of the full top versions...

CLICK TO VIEW FULL SIZE

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Palm Tree Top Textures For Sculpted Trees. - Second Life

Click to enlarge.
I have been toying with making new Palm Tree Top textures for the use with Sculpted tree trunks.

I had made previously, some Palm tree textures including the trunk and they’re “OK” but people seem to have a desire for the tree top textures only, so they may add them to purchased (or made) sculpted/mesh tree trunks in Second Life.

I purchased some plant models and I wanted to make my own texture maps so they can be identified as my own work (at least in part) and not a simple render of someone else model (and textures)

I finished my third attempt with one palm frond texture to apply to the model in DAZ studio.






This is the very rough, but basically completed result..
Draft of texture map.  

it took me an hour to create and distort each separate leaf on the branch but its the best of the three attempts so far. Its painfully slow to hand create each leaf so the final result will look natural.

There are three branches to the models and just to test the texture map I made (displayed) I applied this same map to all three branches.

Obviously, that’s not ideal so the final renders will have three different texture maps for each branch, all unique.

I want to make the ends much more fuller as well as adding some natural markings to the leaves to give it as much realism as possible.

But for a first render, I am quite happy with the result and feel more confident in which direction I should be aiming for from now on.

I do have the option of exporting the shadows “as” images on transparent PNG files from Poser 8

The beauty to this is, the shadows will be true to form based on the light directions which point  down through the palm tops therefor creating a realistic perspective shadow on the ground below.

I haven’t done this before although I can see the shadows on the ground in Poser 8, I just need to suss out how to export the shadow only, as a separate element.

Still learning....

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Rustic Retreat - New Log Cabin 3D Building Textures_TRU Textures



Click to Enlarge










Click to enlarge
Available for commercial use within Secondlife.com from the Second Life Marketplace and our in world store here
Available for commercial content creation in the Avination.com store here.

Also available for use in other virtual worlds from the TRU Textures website  as well as Contentparadise.com and iSourceTextures.com as single textures.














































Saturday, 7 May 2011

There.com To Return ? Take The Survey To Make it Possible.

My Avatar in There.com
There.com was my first real experience of open space virtual worlds.

By “open space” I mean the ability to roam around freely and not be restricted by “walls” such as house walls for example.

Previous to There.com I had been a member of TSO (The Sims Online) which was arguably the Grandfather of online social platforms.

At the time (2001) it was revolutionary. 

I have never been one to use chat rooms of forums so TSO was my first experience of meeting and talking to people from all over the world, largely from the USA.




I am not sure how I discovered There,  I think someone told me about an email they had received inviting them to a free 30 day trial, so I made an account in the name of ElizaRose and logged in.

I recall vividly how vast and open it seemed compared to TSO.

Unlike TSO, where the virtual space you occupied was confined to a house, in There you could run or drive or even fly in wide open spaces, drive over oceans, fields, forests and deserts.

You could also attend social events like group card games, paintball contests or trivia competitions for There Buxs. (The official currency)

It was very social. It wasn’t strange to begin talking to a someone you encountered on your travels.

This was all new to me and at the time a bit overwhelming but also a lot of fun.
I would spend hours during the day hover boarding, racing my buggy or exploring new found areas.

There.com had no game objective like TSO.

Whilst you could skill up in activities like Buggy, Hover bike and Hover board racing and even training your virtual dog, it wasn’t “the point" but more of an option.

The best thing about There were the vehicles and racing to beat the current fastest recorded track speed, or race in “real time” against another 10 players on a member owned and built race track.

The physics engine in There.com is even today, much better than that of Secondlife.com 

The unique thing about Second Life is the fact that the terrain is not pre determined like a “normal” online game would be.

The buildings and assets in games like World of Warcraft are set in place by the creators before the game is opened up to the public.
Players can interact with some of content, but they cannot pick things up and drop them from their inventory at will like you can in Second Life.

Secondlife.com is unique because things are constantly changing every minute and those changes are unpredictable.
Trying to beat the high score

A person can drop a motorbike, boat, house or a horse or indeed anything they are carrying within their inventory, at any time and in many random places.

No one knows exactly how much memory will be required by the Second Life servers  (which run parcels of virtual land) from one minute to the next.
It all depends on who is there, what scripted attachments their avatar is wearing and what activities they are involved in.



Because of this, Second Life suffers from considerable LAG which makes racing any form of vehicle a tedious task.

The last time I tried to drive a vehicle in SL I was "rubber banding” and I always got trapped in buildings that hadn’t had time to appear due to the speed at which my vehicle was moving compared to the speed at which my surroundings would become visible and “solid"

The creators of There.com have more control over their platform.
Most of the assets are “fixed” an cannot be  moved.
You can drive and race but it is done in fixed areas like racing tracks.
Hover Bike Track in There.com


You can also drive around freely of course, but because the majority of the in world assets are fixed, there is much more control over how much each server (which supports a defined area within the game) is used.

The bottom line is the physics engine is superior to Secondlife.com and this was one of the main things I missed when I discovered and “crossed over” to Second Life.

I had been in There.com 9 months when I heard about Second Life.

It would seem, Linden Labs (the creators of Second Life) had obtained the email addresses of all of There.com members because we all got an email “invitation” to Second Life at the same time and none of us had heard of it before.

They even created a special SL surname “Therian” to help people make the transition from There to Second Life. I don’t see anyone with that name anymore. It was 2006 after all.

The first 2 seater Hover Bike
Whilst the sense of freedom in There initially seemed vast and limitless, after nine months you discovered the place did have “walls” after all and what once seemed limitless fast became restrictive.

Once you had flown your hover boat around a few times, you realised that actually, it wasn’t "that big" at all.
Hover Boat.
















Just as in Second Life, you could "own” land in There.com,  but to buy a region would set you back approx $5,000 -  $10,000 and then a further $1,000 to 2,000 a month for the rent.

Needless to say, few people “owned” land regions in There.com

You were lucky if you could afford one of the 100 virtual houses available for rent.

At the time, you would have wait patiently for one to become available in the auctions as there were so few compared to how many people really wanted to “show off” and own one.

Owning a There house was a status symbol.

When one came up, you had to bid for it or if you were smart,  you would contact the owner directly and ask him or her to "name their price" (and remind them they could have the money in 5 minutes)

It would cost anything up to $2,000 depending on how big and where the house was.
Once the deeds were in your name, you then had to pay a further $300 - $400 a month for rent, which was paid directly to There.com.

For a little while, I dabbled in the virtual property market and managed to make a few hundred dollars.
Then they released hundreds of additional virtual properties in the “Bone Yard” area which caused the virtual property market to crash. 

I am not sure to this day why they did that.

Some say it was a deliberate act to stop people making money off the property market. Others said they hoped it would generate more monthly rental revenue.

Either way, it didn’t work out too well for anyone including There.com.

Once the novelty of claiming your own piece of virtual space wore off, what followed was hundreds of empty houses and the value of property plummeting.

In the end, you literally couldn't give your house away. No one wanted to pay the monthly fees anymore.

Partly because of the unsettled economy and partly because of human nature.

When property was not too easy to come by, there was a “snob factor” attached to owning your own “There House" and people will pay for a good ego boost.

As soon as they released an additional 200 properties, it was no longer an exclusive luxury which was indicative to your real life wealth. The shine became a smudge.

Basic economics really, supply and demand.  Suddenly there were too many houses and not enough tenants. 

There.com, like SL had its own marketplace only unlike Second Life, all trading was done on the official auction based website.
Content creators would make and sell clothes, houses, dogs and household items and consumers would bid on items hoping to bag a bargain.

It was much like eBay but in a virtual form. I recall one of the first things I said when I discovered Second Life and that was: “They should have an auction website and it’s not fair that once you buy something you are unable to then sell it on in hopes of making “some” money back.

Some disagreed and said they enjoyed the “virtual reality” of walking into stores to try things on.

Interestingly, SL today has its own website marketplace, much like There.coms and it would appear “in world shoping” is a dying trend.

With the LAG and crappy search system and how badly people spam their store descriptions, its just easier and faster to buy from the official SL marketplace these days.

I have signed up to be a beta tester for the “direct delivery” feature Linden Labs are testing soon.
From what I understand, it will remove the need to own server boxes (SL Boxes) as your products will be delivered straight from your inventory. I sent off my NDA the other day.

Anyway, back to There.com...

You could make and sell your own There based content or simply sell single item products you had bought previously from other creators.

The ability to sell on one copy of a product you had purchased in the past allowed you to free up some money and I can only imagine this aided the economy.

In Second Life, you find 95% of everything you have purchased, remains in your inventory for ever or until the point when it becomes so dated and old, you delete it. Dead money.

Because the There market was governed and controlled by the staff,  this allowed control over what was being made and/or sold.
There was a time stamp of every purchase, who created an item, who purchased the item and who and when that same item was sold on.
Hover Board (My Early Photoshop editing!) 

In SL, because members can “drop” content actually onto the platform, this has opened up the doors to content theft by way of 3rd party programs that will replicate a product from the structure to the textures and scripts.

Obviously, this has had a very negative effect on the issue of Copyright theft.

Whilst content theft was an issue in There.com it was by no means as big an issue as it is in Second Life.

Further more, the owners practised “zero tolerence”
If some-one was reported and found to be guilty of committing theft more than once, they and their IP was banned.

In There.com (and IMVU.com) its not as simple as creating a free account, slapping a picture on a box and setting it for sale, like it is in Second Life.

There was a process of submission and approval.

You have to pay to submit every new design regardless of whether you wanted to sell copies of it or just import it for personal use.
Everything “new” had to be “processed” by There staff.
They checked for copyright and trademarks violations then charged you for submitting your product, you also had listing fees too, regardless of whether it sold or not, you had a fee to pay.

This, by default, made the bulk of content for sale in There.com very good quality.

Few people were likely to pay money to submit and attempt to sell content unless they believed it would sell and they could make profit.

Second Lifes weakness is the fact that literally any "Tom Dick or Harry" can bag up someone else's stuff and sell it often in total ignorance.

This is where a Merchant TOS quiz would come in handy or at the very least presenting some bullet points on the subject of Copyright.
We must not assume everyone “should” or “does” know about copyright. Why would they?

I have made monumental errors and misjudgments in the past and by now I can say I know everything there is to know about copyright. But it took me making some mistakes before I discovered the “dos and donts”
I have spoken to many people who agree they were also clueless as noobs in SL.

People should apply to become SL merchants IMO. The decision should be based on a few credentials.
Premium Account, no TOS violations within the last 12 months and real life ID verification.

No one (not even Linden Labs) knows the identity of many merchants who have breached someones copyright and this has created a sense of insecurity for many honest hard working merchants in Second Life.

Admittedly, things have got better but to many, the damage is already done.

IMVU.com for example, will not let anyone become a merchant unless they have paid for a premium account, verified their real ID and agreed to the TOS relating to copyright and merchant standards.
Good for them. 

It pisses me off when I see people in Second Life on a freebie account asking for money in exchange for products.

Three reasons for that:

1) I feel everyone should pay something if they intend on using the platform to potentially make money.

2) I feel everyone should pay “something” if they intend on using any platform for anything.

3) I feel serious, professional merchants should be upfront about who they are in real life. 
If they are "cashing out" real money to pay for real bills, then I fail to see why they should not use real names and IDs.

I have never hidden my name or address because I am running a real business and I want people to consider me and the business as “real” too. I pay real taxes, and real land tier and the licensed copy of Photoshop, Poser and 3DMax cost me real money.
But then, I think thats "just me” and I am in the minority on this one.

So anyway, thats my comparison between the two platforms that at one time were in direct competition to each other.

There.com closed its doors around 18 months ago (I think) explaining it was largely down to the economy and the fact that "people were just not spending money anymore"

A lot of ex “Therians” came to Secondlife.com reluctantly, sad and angry.

Around 6 weeks ago, I witnessed a group conversation about how the owners of There.com were considering re-opening its doors as a kind of “There2.com”

But there would have to be changes, two of them were:

1) No free access. Good.
Why is it that people are OK about paying a subscription to play WOW or EVE online (where there is no opportunity to make money) but gag at the thought of paying their way in Second Life?

2) No members under 18. (There.com claimed that running and controlling a PG platform was the biggest financial overhead)

They released a survey, initially on a survey based website. It contained 4 questions, all 4 were about payment and fees.

Then, this morning, I got an email inviting me to complete the same survey, here’s the text: 

Dear Former Member of There.com,

We have never believed in spamming our members, however, in this case, we
hope you'll agree we have good reason to send you this unsolicited email.

Since There.com was closed a year ago, we have been exploring cost-effective
ways to re-open There, as a sustainable business. With changes we've made to
our business model and new advances in technology, we MIGHT be able to
re-open There.com.

If you are interested in the possibility of re-opening There.com, you are
invited to to give us feedback in a simple survey. It's only 4 questions, so
it will only take a moment. You can read more about the survey on Michael
Wilson's blog http://theremichaelwilson.wordpress.com/ .

You can find the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/thereagain

Thanks very much for your time,
Everyone at Makena Technologies
(the home of There.com)

So, if you used to be a member of There.com and miss it and are happy to “pay your way” then please take the survey..

Alternatively, if you never had the opportunity to experience There.com but think it sounds like a nice alternative and again, don't mind paying a few dollars a month, please complete the survey.

Honestly, you will enjoy it for many different reasons you may enjoy (or used to enjoy) Second Life.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Coco Palm Tree Top Textures - Work In Progress Version 2

Draft Two
Hmmm, not liking this one so much.

Looks more like a fern frond than a Palm Tree branch. The blades need to be thicker.

Anyway, the more you play the more you can get an idea of what works and what doesn't.

Been busy today seeing my daughter and having hair done which after 7 months was in a real state.

I’ll keep playing...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Coco Palm Tree Top Textures - Work In Progress

First Draft Custom Leaves For DAZ Prop
I know Palm Tree textures in Second Life are highly sought after and the full versions (with the trunk) are less appealing these days, than the sculpted trunk and textured full top versions.

You can buy ready made sculpted versions with textured frond tops from gifted botanical merchants who make their own textures and models.

But they are for personal use only.

There really isn’t too much in the way of a merchant resource for botanical merchants who perhaps dont own or know how to work in 2D and 3D software to be able to make and sell their own sculpted palm trees.

And that is, after all, what Second Life texture stores are for.

I have been asked many times if I had the palm tree tops only and whilst I can easily purchase and render pre made kits with ready made texture maps,  remove the trunk and sell the renders “as is” (and in accordance with the user license they are sold with) it feels lame and kind of a cheat.

I know there are a few collections in Second Life were the merchants have done just that, bought a "ready to render" pack, rendered them in some 3D software and exported the renders as a PNG textures which they then sell.
Basically, a financial investment, much like buying full perm sculpted boots in SL and selling them on to people who don’t know any better.

I want my work to be well, mine.

I want people to feel they are getting something unique that looks like some time and work went into to it and that work and time came from the person they are purchasing the textures from.

I have to admit, my first idea was to try and make some palm fronds with Photoshop brushes but all I could find were painted leaves on stock websites for $10.00 each
Plus like 95% of stock images, to use them for electronic distribution would mean I would have to purchase an extended license which in most cases comes to around $99 per image.

I figure I will need around 6 fronds in order to avoid making the palm tops look “mirrored” or obviously repetitive so when you add all that up you’re looking at $660 just for the 6 leaves and the appropriate license to use them in 3D renders....(!)

So reluctantly, I started to make my own.

I say reluctantly because I had looked at those for sale on the stock sites, noticing how each separate blade differs from the others and kind of dreaded the task.

Anyway, this is my first attempt and whilst I have no idea as this stage how it will look when applied to the mesh, I am fairly pleased with the result.

It took me 30 minutes. No photo, no brushes, nothing “ready made” I have made it from scratch which pleases my ego lol

I will be adding more shadow and light down the center to give it some “depth”
The light to replicate what you might expect the sun would look like on palm trees in a realistic lighting environment.
I won’t know exactly what tweaking I will need to make until I have created the alpha channels, bump maps and applied it to the mesh in DAZ studio.

I may well sell the collection of leaves as a separate collection because as I say, I could not find anything for sale for commercial use that didn’t cost less than $110.00 per texture, so I figure there’s a gap in the market for a reasonably priced collection with license for commercial use and distribution.

It was a relief to discover the task was not as painful and slow as I thought it would have been...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Puesta Del Sol Mexicano - Seamless 3D Build Mexican Hacienda Textures Now Available

Volume One - Base Collection




















The first three of possibly 10 collections,  Mediterranean styled seamless textures.

The above is the “base collection” and includes both open (transparent) and closed (wood shutters) windows for window privacy script use.

Below are samples taken from more "feature rich” collections two and three.

Sample From Volume One













Sample from Volume 2/3

Cover Volume One and Two


Each of the three collections contain over 35 seamless textures sized 1024 x 1024 pixels and can be purchased for L$750 Linden Dollars per collection here:

Second Life - TRU Textures in world store

The Second Life Marketplace Collection One 

The Second Life Marketplace Collection Two

The Second Life Marketplace Collection Three 

**Soon** TRU Textures Website (available for licensed use in Second Life and also for other grids and non Second Life platforms like IMVU or Twinity under the “Any World License"

**Soon** Contentparadise.com

**Soon** www.iSourceTextures.com

---------------------------

Originally a custom request from a chap in Yorkshire (believe it or not)
He wanted some coloured plaster walls commonly associated with Mexican housing.

My plan was to release three sets with mixed colours but its impossible to keep collections small when you add different base walls.

Each base wall colour needs a coordinating texture with window, both open and closed,  facade and without facade, with and without flowers and Ivy Vines, columns and without.
Additionally,  the walls with the windows (open and closed) also have plants and vines, so thats another four textures and before you know it a one color wall texture has 15 variations to ensure all possible uses are offered. They add up fast.
I have ensured these collections can be used in single and multi level builds too which has been an oversight in the past with my 3D texture collections, so that adds more bulk to a set too.

Currently,  I have released three sets in terracotta and blue coloured themes and plan to release similar sets in Yellow, Red and green.