Stop looking like a newbie: Step 4 – Get all dressed up

August 26, 2007 at 1:38 pm Leave a comment

4. Get all dressed up

Step 4 of 5 in “How to stop looking like a newbie in Second Life

Now it’s time to get really creative and have some fun. It’s time for some clothes & accessory shopping, my favourite thing to do in Second Life. The range is huge, and you can create your own style, or buy a pre-packaged complete set of items for an easy & quick fix. All you need to do is type the name of the item you are looking for in the search box, and (in theory!) you should be able to find a range of shops that sell the item.

Finding clothes

A word of warning: the Second Life search function sucks. It really does. So unlike searching for something on internet search engines, when you might type “shoes green high heels”, you cannot do the same in Second Life. Instead, you have to type “shoes” and then go to each individual shop to see if they have green high heels. Shocking, but true. Aside from crashes, the crappy search function is the primary cause of my anger and frustration within Second Life. I have often thought about setting up a fund-raiser to invite people who have the same problem to donate to fund or build an upgrade to the search function on SecondLife. Yes, it’s that bad.

So let’s assume you managed to get over the search hurdle, and have found a shop to visit. A second word of caution: many shopkeepers do not make it easy for you to find what you are looking for. Badly designed and laid-out shops are another cause of lots of frustration for me in Second Life. Good shops have clear labels on the walls or floating signs that say which department you are in, and the best shops offer a map with teleport links on it at the entrance, so you can go straight to what you want. But a lot of shops have no indicators to tell you where you are, and the worst ones just throw everything all together. I guess they think that by forcing you to browse through every single item to find what you want, you will somehow be tempted to buy more. I think not. It just frustrates people.

Worst of all are malls. I hate malls in Second Life. The principle of “one stop shopping” is fine in the real world where everyone knows what Gap and Radio Shack sell, but in Second Life, you often have no idea what “Wonderland” or “Virtually Yours” sell. So you have to wander/fly around the place. And some malls disable flying (you will see a white down arrow in a red circle at the top of your screen), which makes it even more frustrating.

Finding good shops

So which shops are best, you might be thinking. Is it the ones that appear near the top of the search results? Not necessarily. Because the Second Life search results are sorted according to the amount of traffic a shop gets, a lot of malls/shops pay people to “camp” at the shop to artificially boost their traffic rating. It’s a lot like internet click fraud, keyword stuffing, or link farming, imo. You might see the word “camping” comes up a lot in the search results; well, that’s what it’s referring to, not actual camping with tents and such. You might also see people cleaning or painting shops. These people are doing a more active version of camping, but it’s all with the same aim: boosting the search ranking. People sometimes ask me how you can get paid for this kind of “job”, but I don’t know (so please don’t ask). I’m sure you can search Google or other SL blogs to find out. I usually start my shopping toward the middle of the search results, and I always bear in mind the fact that low traffic doesn’t always mean low quality/value/choice.

Another tip for you: sometimes shopkeepers do not categorise their shop in the Second Life search, and therefore not all shops will appear if you have selected the “Shopping” filter from the drop-down list of categories. The reason for this is that some places do things other than just sell stuff – for example, a place might have a bar, shop, and disco all in one. If you know the name of a shop, but can’t find it when you search, make sure you have “All categories” selected, as well as ensuring the mature content box is ticked.

What will I get for the money?

The price of clothing varies dramatically, as does the quality of the items. Just like in real life, cost is sometimes associated with quality, but sometimes you get an expensive dud. The best clothes are realistic and detailed, something you can usually tell by looking at the wall ads or “vendor”. A vendor looks like a wall ad, but has arrows at the bottom. Click the arrows to scroll through the items for sale at the vendor.

Clothing tends to cost on average $100 for a single casual item, and up to $1000 for a posh formal gown with flexi prims. “Prims” are objects in Second Life, and “flexi” means that they have movement built into them (like a flag that waves in the wind). Flexi prim clothing isn’t actually “clothing” at all, because in Second Life, clothing is assigned to various designated layers that envelop your avatar. In your inventory, you can see a little icon next to the name of the clothing item that shows what kind of layer it is (shoe, jacket, shirt, etc). A prim or flexi prim item of “clothing” will not sit in one of these layers, but instead it will be attached to a body part. You will see a little cube icon next to prim/flexi prim items in your inventory, instead of a clothing type icon. You still wear both kinds of clothes the same way: right-click the item and select WEAR.

Attention bargain-hunters: the costs above are average, but you can often find sales and bargain reductions on older stock, some as low as $1. Look out for Sale signs and “gift” boxes on the floor (often tucked away so you have to browse the new stuff first). You can also head over to the $1 Store at Enkythings if you want to see a collection of cheap stuff all in one place. Quality & stylishness varies, so be warned!

Getting the right fit

Because clothing in Second Life is a layer of colouring that is wrapped around your avatar, it will (in theory) always fit. Even if you adjust your breasts to be the size of giant bowling balls, your shirt will always “stretch” around them… but it may not look very good, as the pixels “stretch”. In any case, you cannot usually edit/adjust clothing layers. Sometimes a really nice designer will make an item that allows you to change the tint/colour (using the same method you used to edit your shape), but usually clothing says “No mod” which means what you see is what you get.

But because clothing prims are separate objects, and they do not stretch around your avatar, you might need to adjust/edit them to make them fit. Most good designers understand this, so they make prim and flexi prim clothing editable. You can stretch, rotate, and position the item so it fits you just right. To do this, just right-click on the item and select EDIT. A little toolbox will appear, and this will allow you to make the adjustments. Remember my advice about making a backup copy of your shape? Well the same is true of prim clothing – always make a copy BEFORE you edit anything.

However, some designers don’t allow edits – either because they are concerned that folks might copy their item, or because they are not experienced enough to know how/why editable = good for customers. I have seen this a lot with shoes. In this case, you might need to adjust your shape instead of the clothing, in order to get a good fit. That’s why it’s always good to have an editable shape. Shoes usually need size 0 feet, and skirts will almost always look best with a small butt (butt size = 0). Otherwise, with prim skirts, your ass might stick out through the prim. Not a good look, ladies!

Speaking of flexi prims… one of the main uses for flexi prims (for avatars) is creating realistic hair. Getting new hair is the next step in this series… and it’s the last step, so you are almost done!

Step 5: Get some new hair >>

<< previous step: Step 3 – Get a new walk

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Entry filed under: Help for Newbies, Shopping, Top Tips.

Stop looking like a newbie: Step 3 – Get a new walk Stop looking like a newbie: Step 5 – Get new hair

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