- (a useful kind of snapshot to take if you've "thrown together" an outfit from several other outfits and want to remember how you did it!)
You can find more about me by clicking my SL profile (Search > People) or from my resident profile wiki page . Only one thing I want to say about me - I worked hard to create my own visual identity as I hope you can see! You may think my look sucks (no problem!) but you must agree, it's not the average Second Life "Barbie" look. And that is my point : the first thing you should do in Second Life, after you learned the absolute basics, is to create your own look. Sure, you can buy one off the shelf, the best-looking thing you ever saw, but is it you? Be distinctive, be original, be yourself. The result - you won't look like anyone else in Second Life and you will have your own recognisable identity.
Now I got that off my chest, the rest of this page is a resource to help with those questions everyone has, from complete newbies, to people who have been around a little while but still get nagging thoughts like how do I start editing?, or what kind of pictures can I take?, or what do I do about frequent crashes?
I vividly remember my first few days as a newbie in Second Life - the first few difficult days - and that led me to begin this guide. But remember - I am not you, so you will want to know other things which are not covered here. Use your Help menu, go to Help Island Public, use the Knowledge Base on the website, but best of all, talk to other residents: not only will you get answers to your questions but you will also make friends. Friends are your most valuable resource in Second Life.
(If there are Second Life volunteers reading this - welcome! I hope you find it helpful, and feel free to give the URL to any newbies)
- 1 Hair
- 2 Appearance
- 3 Saving avatar changes before you wear a new shape or a skin
- 4 Wearing clothes
- 5 Getting the best from your camera
- 6 What happened to my first island? Where am I?
- 7 Friends and Groups
- 8 "Animal", "Furry", "Neko" and "Tinies"
- 9 Communication issues
- 10 Hugs, Kisses... and Sex
- 11 Volunteers: Mentors, Helpers, and Police
- 12 I'm getting grief ....
- 13 Land
- 14 Where do I get money?
- 15 Buying, Opening, Wearing
- 16 Crashes, Sim crashes, Logouts, Region restarts
- 17 Copy, Transfer, Modify
- 18 Simple Editing
- 19 Pictures
- 20 Animation, AO, HUD
- 21 What do I do now?
- 22 Useful Tips... and solutions to problems
Whatever your reasons for joining SL, you will want to shed your newbie look as soon as possible. The very first thing to do then, is to get some free hair (Gurl6 and Calla are two places where newbies who are less than 2 weeks old can get free hair). Nothing looks so newbie as system hair. (System hair comes on the older default avatars, and can be recognised by the fact that it can be greatly altered - in length, style, colour, etc - by using the Edit Appearance sliders; all other hair is known as prim hair and appears more finely detailed, moves or swings in the breeze, and usually cannot be edited very much. If you right-click your hair and it gets a yellow outline, it is prim hair).
Before you wear your new hair...
- you may need to wear the Bald hair base that comes with it (this hides your avatar hair which is not removable)
- you can simply go into Edit Appearance and adjust your avatar's hair until you look bald
- right-click your new hair in Inventory, choose Wear - it will go on top of the bald look. Enjoy!
Completing the Edit Appearance tutorial should be high on your To Do list. You can make literally 000's of changes to your body shape, skin, hair, etc, using a set of fine-tuning controls in Edit Appearance mode (I'm sure you did the tutorial but just in case... right-click your avatar, choose Appearance.. from the menu).
You can also buy from a whole variety of different shapes and skins, but if you already created a look in Edit Appearance, please be aware of The Great Appearance Paradox before you take the plunge with your hard-earned L$ ---> Tid's Page 2
Saving avatar changes before you wear a new shape or a skin
So - before you buy, read the above carefully! If you like the "you" which you have created (shape and skin and eyes, or even hair!), then the first thing to do is save each of those components. Rule #1 - always save your Edit Appearance changes. When saving a new version of yourself, always go into Edit Appearance, click shape, skin, and eyes in turn and for each - Save As, and give it a name you will remember. Or, a quick and complete way to do it is to click the Make Outfit button in Edit Appearance. This button is very useful - you can use it not just to create clothing outfits, but also to save different versions of yourself.
To save changes to your avatar as a complete set:
- check shape, skin, eyes in Make Outfit
- uncheck the clothing boxes if you want a nude version to drag clothing outfits onto
- give your shape a name
It will be saved into your Clothing folder in your Inventory.
You can find a general set of clothing in the Library folder (bottom of your Inventory). This holds clothing and shapes for all the default SL avatar shapes.
- (i) you can right-click any item of clothing and choose Wear from the menu.
- (ii) you can drag an item of clothing onto your avatar.
- (iii) you can drag an entire outfit you saved in your Clothing folder onto your avatar.
Clothing has special properties - it will 'wrap' itself around your avatar, so if you have a dramatically different avatar shape in your Inventory, the same item of clothing can be used on either shape without needing to be refitted.
Getting the best from your camera
There are 2 basic ways to view Second Life : standard view, and Mouselook. In one, your avatar is visible with the camera default behind and above. As your avatar moves, the camera moves with you. In Mouselook you don't see your avatar - it is as if you are looking through its eyes. M puts you in Mouselook, and Esc takes you out of it (except on my Mac! so I don't use it, and don't feel comfortable with that view anyway). The remainder of this section is concerned with using your camera in Standard view.
- Tip: click View menu > Camera Controls, and keep that little blue window on your screen always - it is very useful.
- Arrow keys - these simply move your avatar, and the camera moves with you
- Alt / Opt key - this is your main camera control key and works like this:
- with Up / Down arrows = zoom in / out
- with Left / Right arrows = pan around horizontally, in a circle (at the current zoom level). Using this, you can see your face if you want.
- with Page Up / Page Down keys = tilt camera until exactly overhead or exactly underneath, in other words it gives you 180 degrees of tilt, unlike the continuous 360 degree horizontal rotation.
- with mouse, you can do most of these things in a "free form" kind of way, for example you can zoom in and out on the cursor (which changes to a little magnifier symbol)
- However, with all the above, as soon as you release the alt key and start to move, the camera will revert to its standard position, so any zoom or repositioning will be lost.
- Key combinations - if you press Shift+Ctrl+Alt (or Opt) you can move the camera in a 2D plane relative to the current view : using the arrow keys will cause the camera to "slide" left / right / up / down. Aso, holding Shift down while pressing the left or right arrow will allow you to see your avatar moving from the side instead of from behind.
- View menu Zoom - you can widen or narrow the view using Ctrl-8 -9 -0 (Command on Macs). These are like using a wideangle-telephoto zoom on a camera, and feature the same distortion effects. What is more, whichever setting you leave it at, that view will stay even when your avatar moves, until you Reset view or use Ctrl-9 (Default). This is very useful for adjusting the field of view, e.g. for playing sports or driving vehicles.
- Mouse scroll - another trick up your sleeve is to use the scroll wheel on your mouse if you have one: this zooms the view right out, but without the visual distortion of Ctrl-8; you can therefore watch your avatar walking around from quite a distance away, or see a whole event with yourself as simply one tiny figure among many.
- Independent camera - this is a slightly creepy aspect of Second Life: you may already have noticed that if you zoomed in on another avatar using Alt+mouse, then when the other avatar starts to move somewhere else, your camera goes with them! However, it only works to a certain distance from your own avatar, and beyond that point the camera does not follow, so fear of stalkers (someone else doing this to you) should not be a concern.
So there are many ways to operate your camera and change your view in Second Life - experiment, get to know them all, have fun!
What happened to my first island? Where am I?
When people start in Second Life, they always land on a special Orientation / Help Island (a close copy of Help Island Public) so they can master a few essential skills before moving on to Second Life itself. From there, you can either move on to:
- a Welcome Area (the Exit signs on Help Islands give landmarks to these) - the WAs are usually characterised by horrendous lag, caused mainly by the large number of non-newbies who hang out there. Find a mentor if you need help, but you won't find these rewarding places to stay in for too long.
- an InfoHub (e.g. Calleta) - these are places set up with all the kinds of information points and tools to help out new residents. Mentors can be found here also, and you can ask questions and get help.
- Orientation Island Public - a replica of the very first Orientation Island used in Second Life. This contains all the tutorials you need to acquire basic skills, and though the lag can be bad due to cliques of residents chilling there, it is not so bad as the Welcome Areas.
- Help Island Public - adjacent to Orientation Island Public. This is essentially the same as the first Help Island where you arrived, but very much more laggy, again due to the number of avatars present. But this is the first place to come to if you have a question that needs answering. And the place where you are most likely to find a mentor.
Remember - once you are out of the first orientation island, there is no way back to it (except for Mentors and Linden employees known as Lindens, recognisable by their last name of Linden).
To summarise : to do tutorials, go to Orientation Island Public; to ask a question or learn to build or shop for freebies, go to Help Island Public; to meet other residents and find a mentor, go to a Welcome Area; to get information about Second Life, and help, go to an InfoHub.
Friends and Groups
Ok, hopefully by now you have a few friends in Second Life and you are familiar with looking to see if they are online (Communicate button, bottom left, then the Friends tab). And assuming you haven't messed around too much with your Preferences, you get that blue popup telling you when they are online or offline (and the more friends you get, and the more blue popups you get, the more you may start to think about those Preferences...!) But - what are those little symbols next to your friends' names in the list? They are actually different privileges you can give to your friends...:
- the Eye symbol (online status - the default is On ) : it means that this friend can see your online status - the blue popup I mentioned before? With any friend highlighted, if you uncheck the first box at the bottom of the list, that friend will no longer see your online status - in fact, as soon as you check it, they will get a blue popup telling them you are offline, even though you're not.
- the blue & green square (Map privileges - the default is Off ) : if you check Map privileges at the bottom, you are giving this friend the ability to see where you are on the Map when you are online. Therefore they can see you and teleport to you whenever they want to, so be sure of someone before you give this privilege. And what you don't get is the ability to see them on the Map - they have to give the same privilege to you separately.
- the little boxes (Modify objects privileges - the default is Off ) : if you check Modify my objects at the bottom, you are giving this friend the power to modify any of your objects which you have given to them - no matter what permissions the object itself may have. Be VERY careful about giving this privilege. In fact I only gave it once so far, so that the Creator of an outfit I had just bought could give me a special fitting (it was too big for me) - and the privilege was removed once the transaction was over. Again, like Map privileges, it only works in one direction.
Otherwise, your friends are quite possibly your main reason for being in Second Life, or if not, a close second to your main passion or occupation. Do not remove good friends from your list just to test their loyalty. You will puzzle them, you may hurt them, they will wonder what they did to upset you. And remember : unlike privileges, adding or removing a friend is a 2-way process - you appear (or disappear) on each other's lists at the same time.
You just started SL, and among all the new things happening you barely noticed a blue popup saying "Xxxx Xxxxx has invited you to join a group" and you probably forgot you clicked Accept. Next thing you notice, instead of just your name label, your label is 2 lines long and you don't remember what the top line means. What it means is - you are now in a Group, and if you right-click yourself you will see that you can select Groups from the pie menu, and clicking that will open the Groups tab in your Communicate window. Before saying too much more about Groups, here is how to stop displaying that group label (this is not the same as leaving a group!)
- Right-click yourself and choose Groups
- In the list of groups choose none
- Click the Activate button
- (just repeat this process to display any group name you are a member of - just choose the name instead of none)
To leave a group you no longer wish to be a member of, repeat the first step above, choose the group name and then click the Leave button. This enables you to permanently leave a group, not just stop displaying the name as a temporary measure.
If you click the Info button a new window opens up with a whole lot of tabs and a full member list, the date group members last logged into SL, a menu of Group titles you can wear as a label, a list of Officers and Roles - a lot of information, too much to cover in this introduction. But there are two aspects of groups worth mentioning :
- Group IM - this is like an ordinary IM session but instead of between 2 people, it is like a group chat between any members of the group. For Mentors and help people, this is a useful place to discuss problems that require solutions, but with other groups it can be a pain as people start to spam the Group IM (and with some of these, closing the tab just doesn't work - as soon as someone else posts something the tab reappears (a known bug).
- Group Notices - these are blue popups that tell you something that needs that needs to be conveyed to the whole group (e.g. a DJ can let their fan club know that a gig is just about to begin, or the WWF can report about environmental issues of the day). There is a quirk in SL : if you read a Notice then click the OK button after you read it, your Chat History will show You decline a Group Notice from ...., which is slightly surreal. However if you missed a group notice or forgot what it said, you can click the Notices tab in the Info window, where all Notices from the last month are listed.
FINALLY... you can start your own group if you want! It requires a minimum of 2 people to be members, and costs 100L$ to register it. For a great video tutorial on how to start a group, watch Torley Linden's YouTube film :
"Animal", "Furry", "Neko" and "Tinies"
If you'd like to know the difference, see my other page! Tid's Page 2
I deal with this subject on my other page. Tid's Page 2
Hugs, Kisses... and Sex
I deal with this subject on my other page. Tid's Page 2
Volunteers: Mentors, Helpers, and Police
You really need to read this! Go to Tid's Page 2
I'm getting grief ....
There could be several ways to get irritated, annoyed, or downright harrassed, assaulted or abused in Second Life. It happens (sigh), just like in Real Life. Luckily there are ways and means to deal with it in SL.
- Muting There is a resident who just will not stop playing that annoying gesture even though you have asked nicely? Or there is an object somewhere nearby that is giving out an annoying sound? Under these circumstances you have the Mute option. Right-click the resident or object and go through the menus (using More> if necessary) until you see the Mute.. option. Click this and you will see a small window on your screen with the name of that resident or object added to the list of anyone or anything you ever muted before. And you can Unmute any time also.
- Ban If you own, lease, or rent land you can exert quite a lot of control over access to your property (for many quite legitimate reasons not concerned with griefing). You can also ban a resident if you own land (see About Land); a banned resident may approach to the boundaries of your property, but no further until or unless you cancel the ban.
(Please be aware that you do not have to give any explanation to any other resident for either muting or banning them if you choose not to. Just as another resident owes you no explanation for doing the same to you! This does NOT apply to the next option of Abuse Report which may only be submitted for a good reason and within one of the categories stated.)
- Abuse Report (AR) If someone or something seems to be breaking the Second Life Terms Of Service (TOS - listed on the secondlife.com website) then you should submit an Abuse Report via the Help menu. This gives you the chance to include a screenshot, to specify what category of abuse you are reporting, the name of the person, and as much detail as you can provide. It be anything from a persistent pushing, or racist or intolerant language, or an assault such as being caged, or any of the listed categories. To AR an object, right-click it and choose Report Abuse from the menu, and fill out as much information as you can.
Sometimes you will see a concerted griefing attack in a public place (this often means flying textures, intrusive sounds, scripted (green) spam in the chat, and maybe a whole series of blue popups asking to animate your avatar. Even if others are submitting ARs you should still submit one too - the more are submited for an incident, the more notice Linden Lab will take of it.
To deal with blue pop-ups, or for how to deal with being caged or other assaults, see my other page Tid's Page 2.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that if you have a dispute with another resident, Linden Lab do NOT get involved - you have to sort it out between yourselves. However, if another resident defrauds you of something, or steals your designs, or bans you from land where you have objects, for example, you can - if talking to the person(s) does not resolve the matter - submit an Abuse Report and let LL look at the matter.
There is far too much to say about land that can be covered in a beginner's tutorial like this. However I will try and mention the basics in my other page Tid's Page 2. But the outline of what you can do is summarised in three headings:
- Buying To truly own land in Second Life you need to upgrade to a Premium Account which allows you to buy Mainland (also known as Linden Land).
- Leasing Sometimes referred to as owning land, this involves "buying" land from an existing landowner. This can be done with a Basic Account.
- Renting This is a straightforward, unpretentious deal with an existing landowner, where you enter into a rental agreement. This also can be done with a Basic Account.
Where do I get money?
Another very common question. Actually, it is possible to live in Second Life with no money at all, or to get by on very little. There are freebie shops and freebie warehouses which you can use your Search button to find. If you are building or getting a home, then money is a consideration of course. So for a few ideas of how to get Linden dollars, go to Tid's Page 2.
- (i) low pay from camping
- (ii) medium pay from surveys
- (iii) higher pay from escort and nightclub jobs
- (iv) competitions and prizes
- (v) the easy way from buying L$
- (vi) the long road - full professional immersion
Buying, Opening, Wearing
You've found a store and you've admired the hair in the picture on the wall - what do you do now? In Second Life, buying is nearly always a matter of right-clicking the picture and choosing Buy (sometimes Pay) from the Pie menu. A window will open showing the contents of the item you clicked and a Buy and Cancel button - if you click the Buy button a blue popup will appear with a Ker-ching! showing you have paid the Seller for the item. Even if the item is free (L$0) you still have to "buy" it. Now, go to your inventory. Sometimes the item will be there (in Clothing folder for example) ready to wear, more often it will be a folder in the general area beneath the Trash icon, with the items inside the folder. However, sometimes it will be a box in your Objects folder.
Help! I'm wearing a box. We've all been there lol. Right-clicked an item in Objects we've bought, chosen Wear from the menu, and suddenly our avatar is partly hidden beneath a brightly coloured package or box! Why? Because a box contains more than one item - it could be 4 colours of a hairstyle, each in 3 different sizes, there will be a landmark to the store, maybe a notecard too. A box is something you have to Open. To open it...
- drag the box from your Objects folder onto the ground where it will appear. Do this either in the store where you bought it, or go to a sandbox like the one at Help Island Public.
- right-click the box on the ground, and choose Open. A window will appear showing the contents of the box, and a button Copy to Inventory?
- click this button and the contents will appear in a folder inside your Inventory.
- finally, be tidy - right-click the box on the ground and choose Take or Delete. Take is better as it will return the box to your Inventory where it will be a backup to re-open if you ever have Inventory problems.
Summary: Right-click the picture in the store to purchase items; find the item as a folder name in your inventory in order to wear what you've bought; open boxes and copy to inventory.
Crashes, Sim crashes, Logouts, Region restarts
Sometimes it seems you can go for days without anything except the occasional crash, then other times it seems crashes are every few minutes. Then there are times you seem to get a "warning" before you crash.
- Client crash. Basically, your Second Life client has crashed on your computer, and you get something like Second Life has unexpectedly Quit (at least you do on the Mac, it will be something similar on PCs). Inworld, other residents will simply notice you disappear and hopefully reappear a few minutes later. When you relog after one of these crashes you will experience one of SL's bugs: your first attempt will fail with "Region has begun the logout process, please try again in a minute", which is very irritating. Your second attempt may say "You have been logged out of Second Life, your account will not be available until (some date and time about 5 or 10 minutes in the future)" - if you get that - IGNORE IT! It's total rubbish, and an immediate relog attempt will usually be successful.
- Client disconnection. Sometimes you appear to be ok, but your conversations all seem to have stopped, no-one is replying to your chat, and maybe you can only rotate on the spot without forward or backward movement. If the minimap has turned a reddish colour, you have become disconnected from Second Life, though your Client doesn't seem to have realised it yet! A relog is the only solution (though sometimes the same effects happen when the sim itself has crashed - in this case it will affect everyone who is in the sim at the time. See next item.)
- Sim crash. There you are, sitting at a SL gig, watching and listening happily. Then after a while, you notice that that guy who was walking away a few minutes earlier is still walking away (in the same spot!); you are sending IM messages or replying to them, but suddenly you realise you are not receiving any; no-one is chatting; finally, you try to stand, or walk, and nothing happens. Clearly something is wrong. Look at your Mini Map: if it has turned a reddish colour, it means the sim itself has crashed, and no-one can tell anyone what has happened - indeed, the audio stream may be coming in fine. The only thing to do is to relog - if the sim is back online you will return there, otherwise you will be placed in a nearby region instead.
- Sim logout. This most often happens at high-traffic, high-lag areas such as Orientation Island Public and Help Island Public. Because these areas experience so much activity, their "cache" needs refreshing just as your Client does. However it needs to happen more often. You can usually tell when one is due - chat disappears and avatars are "walking on the spot", or eternally typing, or you cannot move except to move your camera, or spin your avatar on the spot. After a couple of minutes of this you will hear a "ping", your screen wiill turn blue/grey and a small window will appear asking if you want to Quit immediately as the region is going offline, or if you want to Continue - if you choose the latter, you get to look at Chat History and IM history, but nothing else. (Useful however if you want to retrieve chat or IM). When you Quit, you simply relog without problem or bug, and return to that (or a neighbouring region).
- Region restarts. When LL are doing one of their occasional rolling restarts, each region in turn throughout the grid has to be restarted. Residents get a 5 minutes warning this is about to happen, then each minute after that. All that is needed is to either fly to an adjacent region, or TP out of there. If you stay, you will be logged out,and you must relog.
Occasionally, a crashing problem seems insurmountable - for example an early problem I had once at Orientation Island Public was a crash every 5 minutes after relogging, and just after a message appeared bottom right telling me "a gesture could not be loaded". If this happens to you, there are several things you can try:
- relog into a quiet sim - enter its name on the splash (login) screen at the bottom left, or if your home is not a busy area, try login there (enter My Home at login). When you login, clear cache (Edit > Preferences > Network > Clear Cache) and then relog again.
- try increasing your bandwidth and cache settings (Edit > Preferences > Network).
- lower your graphics settings to see if that helps.
- organise your inventory when you get an opportunity to do so, and get rid of duplicate stuff, empty the trash, delete anything you don't really want - a leaner, meaner inventory cures a host of ills!
- finally, if all else fails, try a complete reinstall of Second Life on your computer, ensuring you have removed all temporary and cache files first.
Copy, Transfer, Modify
All the labels you see attached to items in your Inventory can be very confusing to new residents - No Copy, No Transfer, No Modify... what's all that about? It is actually the system that governs what you can do while you own items, and how - if at all - you can dispose of them.
No Modify. Exactly as it says - if you right-click a No Modify item, you will not have the option to Edit it. You may now be the Owner of that particular item, but its Creator does not want you to alter or mess with it in any way. You will rarely see this on hair for example, as most hair designers recognise that you will want to make slight edits for a perfect fit.
No Transfer. Again, what it says. Any item that is No Transfer may not be given to anyone else. If it is not No Copy you can make copies and have them in different folders or outfits in your Inventory, but if you drag it onto another avatar, you see a circle with a diagonal through, and nothing happens.
No Copy. Again, exactly as it says - you cannot make copies of the item, i.e. to sell or give away. So, when you buy a posh dress, you will see that most parts of the dress - "pants", "shirt", etc - are not No Copy, but the most important part - the skirt - is. So, what do you need to remember about No Copy?
- When you go into Edit Appearance and Make Outfit of a new set of clothes you just bought, you are able to check all the items that are not No Copy to go into the outfit, but you will have to move the No Copy part into the Outfit folder yourself afterwards, by dragging it there.
- You can give away a No Copy item, but you will get a message saying You will lose this item from your Inventory - Go ahead?; if you click Yes, then the item moves out of your Inventory and into the Inventory of the recipient.
Summary: No Modify - you cannot edit; No Copy - you can give it away but you will lose it; No Transfer - you cannot give this (or sell) to another resident.
If you learn to build in Second Life, you will use the Edit window a lot, but even a new resident needs to fix her hair! This section is a brief introduction to simple editing, using your new prim hair as an example.
Right-click your hair which will outline it in yellow, and choose Edit from the menu. Immediately you will see your hair is outlined in blue, and there are 3 axes streaming from it, each with an arrow at its centre, one red, one blue, one green. But you will also see a small window appear on your screen - it has 5 icons at top and the middle one (Edit) will be highlighted. The check boxes below are what I will discuss briefly here :
- Position - this is the default mode. If you click on one of the coloured arrows and drag, you will see the object move along that coloured axis (the 3 axes represent up/down, left/right, and front/back, to give 3D). You will need to make fine adjustments and check from various angles to see if your new position is ok; a Posing stand will keep your avatar still to make this easier.
- Rotate - similar to Position, but gives you a sphere with red, blue and green circles to rotate the item through so you can adjust the angle or tilt (unlikely to be needed with hair!)
- Stretch - allows you to make the object larger or smaller; when you click this box you will see a number of grey handles appear around the object. Click and drag a handle and the item will grow or shrink depending which way you drag. As a new resident, you will want to keep the opposite boxes checked - Stretch Both Sides, Stretch Textures, and Use Grid (the uses of those are beyond the scope of this tutorial). Sometimes the hair will not shrink beyond a certain size - this is why hair is often sold in different sizes.
- Select Texture - maybe you just want to stretch or shrink the fringe a little? If you click this box you can select individual prims and then edit them separately from the others. If you select more than one, make sure the Edit linked parts box is checked so that you can make the changes to all your selection at once if you want.
There is a More >> button which expands the Edit window to show its full options and potential. If you feel confident, click this and have a look - but for a newcomer, what I've described here will get you a long way.
Summary: you can re-Position, Rotate, Stretch (or shrink) all or part of any object that can be Edited.
Pictures in Second Life are called Textures - you can take snapshots of anything you see on your screen but there are three ways of having your pictures in Second Life: Postcards, Snapshots, or Save to disk. To take a picture, use the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-S (Command-Shift-S on Mac), and you will see the picture window open. Here you can check one of the three choices (see below); you can also define the image size, the image quality, and various other elements you can choose to include or exclude from the final shot (e.g. the User Interface, HUDs, etc). Finally, at the bottom you will see a preview of the shot which you can then keep or discard.
- Send a postcard - if you choose this option, you will get a further window with the option to send the picture to someone's email address with or without a message, and / or publish on the web. If you Send the picture, you will be charged 10L$ from your account.
- Upload a snapshot - this actually does not really upload at all; what it does is place the picture you have taken into your Snapshots folder in your Inventory, and this will cost you 10L$.
- Save snapshot to hard drive - this is the most commonly used option, as this is the only one of the three that does not cost you any L$! The first picture you take will bring up a dialogue box prompting you to choose a folder on your hard drive where you want the picture to be saved, as soon as you take the picture. (For more pictures during the same session, it will not prompt you.) Whether you remain inworld or logout of SL, the pictures will be on your computer's hard drive for you to view, to upload to Flickr, send to friends, work with in Photoshop, trash, or anything you want.
However, you may wish to upload some of the pictures you saved to your hard drive, or indeed, upload some actual RL photographs or designs of your own. To do this, make sure you first locate the picture(s) on your computer, then when inworld, click the File menu, and choose Upload Image. You will be prompted to locate the picture (which must be in JPEG or PNG format), then asked to confirm. After the upload has completed, you will be charged 10L$ (per item), and the image will appear (or begin to appear!) on your screen. All uploaded pictures will be be found in your Textures folder in inventory, where pictures given you by other residents will also live.
If you have uploaded pictures from your hard drive, e.g. to your profile, you may already have noticed that SL tends to squash them either vertically or horizontally. This is because Second Life only holds pictures in fixed dimensions - each side must be 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, or 1024 pixels, and if it is not, SL will "make" it fit. So, for example, a picture that is 956 x 678 pixels will probably come out as 1024 x 512 and therefore seem horizontally "stretched" (or vertically "squashed" if you like). To get round this, I tend to make my pictures either square (512x512) or rectangular (1024x512 or 512x1024) and I use Photoshop to achieve this.
Animation, AO, HUD
These are all different ways to operate or animate your avatar, and can be confusing terms for the new resident.
Animation. An animation is a single item that will basically take over your avatar, and put it in a pose or in a fixed animation like a walk or a dance. The principles to remember are these :
- You play an animation, you don't wear it - Play In World starts the animation going, then needs to be Stopped. (You can see this by right-clicking the animation in your inventory - the menu contains the Play options but not Wear).
- Play Locally will let you see the animation in your own viewer but no-one else will see it, so you can preview it.
- A common animation is something you get when you click a Danceball in a club; a blue popup will ask ".... would like to animate your avatar". Clicking Yes starts the dance, and often the Danceball contins the Stop option also, or will automatically stop if you simply touch it again.
- You can usually still move with your arrow keys when in an animation, but the animation will continue - so you can move across the dancefloor while dancing for example.
Animation Override (AO). There is a basic set of animations contained within every new avatar provided when you start Second Life. These govern how you sit, walk, fly, stand, etc. Some residents dislike this standard set, others (including me) are quite happy with most of them. However, one thing most people are agreed upon is that the "waddle" that is the standard walk is something to replace as soon as possible! So an AO will override one or more of the basic animations in your avatar. So, you can buy a sexy walk that only replaces the waddle, and nothing else, or you can get an AO that replaces most or all of the animations in the standard set. An override is different than an animation, though...
- You Wear an AO, you don't play it.
- The AO only comes into effect when your avatar does something that will activate it - fly, walk, sit, stand, etc. At other times - just as with the standard set - it does not take effect.
- Sometimes an AO will interfere with other animations - so when at a disco and clicking the Dancball, you may need to Detach the AO in order for the animation to work properly; just right-click and detach it.
- Some AOs - like the large mammal ones from Grendels Children - are extremely complex and sophisticated.
HUD. Heads Up Display. This is something that instead of attaching to your avatar, attaches to your User Interface (UI). Every new resident has one when they first start - it's that Orientation Guide that is on the top left of your screen and which invites you to click arrows etc as you move through the tutorials. The important thing to remember with an HUD is that it is an extension of the UI, i.e. it gives you extra controls or actions to perform that are independent of your avatar controls. Many games within SL rely on a HUD to give you the controls you need to play the game.
What do I do now?
You've just started. You're new, you're confused, this is like no other game you ever played. What do you do?
First, Second Life is not really a game. It's an online community where residents shape their world. So don't go looking for "levels" you have to attain, or status, or skills that have to be completed, or bosses that must be defeated. This is a place where you are free to meet, to chat, to explore, to join groups, to build, to trade, make friends (and enemies too - it can happen! just as in real life). So take time. Right-click on a few residents, read their Profiles, see which groups they have joined. See if they have any Picks (favourite places). And don't forget - write your own Profile too - it helps get over those first few awkward moments of small talk, which can be as painfully dull or shy as anything in Real Life, and it gives other residents something to chat to you about.
Don't be in a hurry. Second Life is so vast you will never uncover all of it. But perhaps this is a challenge to you, and you want to explore, mapping your way as you go. Maybe you are the resident who is going to compile The Rough Guide To Second Life? That would be amazingly useful to residents, both old and new alike.
Useful Tips... and solutions to problems
For some "Useful Tips" for Second Life, plus some frequently encountered problems, go to Tid's Page 2
and don't forget...
Torley Linden's Tip Of The Week - If you are already signed up to the Linden Blog, you will know about these. If not, go to your account on the SL website and sign up - some of the tips are quite advanced, but if you keep them they will be a useful resource in the future. find Torley's video tutorials here