Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Has Mesh Marred the Creative Process in Second Life?
When I announced our plan to explore the latest in Second Life creativity, I mentioned wanting to see new or updated sims using mesh, introduced to SL a few years ago, and a thought occurred to me -- has mesh actually marred the overall creative energy of Second Life? I had this thought, in part, because it came up in my long discussions with AM Radio (Jeff Berg IRL) for my Polygon profile of him. AM was easily among Second Life's most renowned creators, and he said this about the appearance of mesh, versus his prim-based works in SL:
Every prim there was positioned manually, entered in using the number keys. Placement via the mouse was rare. It was exacting. I never felt anything was out of place. Yet prims have a certain quality to them, similar to brush strokes, shaping them just right can result in magic, the hand of the creator still evident on inspection. it's really a beautiful medium. The introduction of mesh in Second Life, for me, has many parallels to the recording industry, which went from tape to digital. Dave Grohl's documentary about Sound City is an excellent metaphor as it moves from tape to digital recording. That is to say, mesh gives far more freedom, but at some cost to the creative process. "You can't make a wheat field, you'll crash the sim." Often, the most inspiring creativity comes from overcoming what others define as limitations. Show me one piece in the MoMA that does not contain some energy of it's very own pioneering.This seems generally right to me. This is not to say people who develop in mesh are less creative -- after all, 3D graphics studios have their own limitations too -- just that prims are more universal. They are essentially equivalent to building blocks or LEGO, toys we're all familiar with and able to use. (And in Second Life, you can also see the construction take place in real time.) And therefore, creativity around prims (as opposed to mesh models created offline) somehow seems both childlike and more impressive -- and when it really works, incredibly powerful:
Another example, of course, is Minecraft, where prim-based construction was even more, well, primitive. But look what wonders it can do: