The Sculptie Hype.

It’s sorta funny that, as someone who makes much of her sales off sculpties, I don’t personally find the hype over sculpties to be all that big a deal. To be clear, I love sculpties – I think they are a great organic alternative to the prims we’ve come to know and love. But I *don’t* think they’re the be-all and end-all to content creation in Second Life.

Case in point? Gutterboots by Gutterblood Spoonhammer. Yes, he does use some sculpties in his boots, but by and large I’ve found the thing I like most about his work is that they are not solely dependent on them and as such stand on their own as *good products*, sculpty or not. They are solidly constructed and incredibly textured with every smidgen of detail paid attention to – from the laces to the soles, which would rarely see the light of day. I own 3-4 pairs of his boots and while each do use sculpties in some way, the sculpties are not integral to the design and could have easily been replaced with normal prims, but for the chance to give sculpties a try.

Many times I see content creators trying to get in to the sculptie-mania and becoming frustrated because the tools recommended for the job are difficult to use or learn, and feeling like they are somehow ‘behind’ because they haven’t spent ‘X’ amount of time to become masters of this new area that has been opened up. To be sure, in the last year, SL has undergone a lot of changes so that it might compete on an aesthetic level comparative to other MMO and VW platforms… but that doesn’t mean that products NOT created with sculpties are in any way inferior or less able to stand up on their own as products.

For that matter, my biggest gripe about sculptie use as it stands now is that they are often slow to load to their full quality (even at 32x32px), and as such, sculpted materials are often unloaded still after all normal textures in the area have loaded.

While this is not as big a problem for my own products given that it’s expected that they will load slower under existing conditions in SL, I find it particularly irksome to find that the majority of an attachable product – such as shoes or hair – is made with sculpties… and just *will not load* in areas that are highly populated. As a result, the wearer often looks like they’ve got odd tumors growing out of various areas on the body. In other instances, furniture and living spaces made with sculpties have issues too – I’ve experienced this with my own creations and have to say it’s something I disliked enough to disuade me from selling. (If your video card selectively screwed up sculptie textures to the point where your sculpted couches looked like pincushions, would YOU want to sit on them?)

With the increasing difficulty Residents are having in the battle against lag (whether from the client or the server side), this is increasingly abundant and in my opinion, unnecessary. After all – SL has seen what… 4 years? of fabulous content creation using normal prims? While *yes* sculpties provide a reasonable outlet for people who are willing to put in the time and effort to use them effectively, let us not forget that amazing work has come about through the use of normal prims already, and can continue to do so if the product being made is a good one.

In other words – yay! if sculpties help you make a good product you wouldn’t otherwise be able to make. Boo! if you’re getting in on sculpties because it’s a fad.  Use ’em well if you can but don’t use ’em if you don’t have to would be my suggestion.