One of my favourite skin designers has been working on some new things after a bit of a hiatus from SL (hurrah!), and she was asking on Plurk last night about what features people look for in skins now.
It got me to thinking about what I do look for in skins. My avatar is seven years old now and I have owned many skins in my day. I can be quite particular about what I will buy, because skins are an expensive item and you really want to get the most for your money when it comes to buying them.
I know everyone has different needs and wishes, but in case any skin makers are curious how I responded to her query, here’s my dream wishlist of bells and whistles I like to find in a skin box:
For the skin itself:
- Now that we have tattoo layers, I tend to think of the skin itself as a canvas. I want mine to start blank, and I will add to it later as I see fit. I always buy the most neutral one I can find, usually with the least makeup possible.
- I like detailed skins, but that is not the same as photoreal skins. I definitely notice when there is/isn’t detail in places like the backs of the knees, if the face is a massively different skin tone from the body, if the ears look like someone glued them on.
- I want to be able to change my brow colour. Sometimes, I like to change the style, too, but mostly just the colour. If you include additional basic brow tats in the box, I will love you forever. If you include even more brow options as add-ons, perhaps in different thicknesses, arches or wild colours, I will probably buy some.
- I care what my avatar looks like naked and we all know prim vulvas are scary. Please spend as much time on my pink parts as you did on my face. Please?
- Again, I will happily buy other brows as an add-on.
- Cleavage options should be available. Enhancers are the big one, obviously, and with everyone on the grid sporting prim hooters these days, I think a wise skin store would offer Lolas appliers. I also appreciate cleavage DE-hancers and nipple hiding layers, for nip-slipping outfits that just work better with a smaller chest.
- I wear SLink mesh feet now, just like most people, and often I wear their mesh hands, too. I want them to match my skin. Please look into the dev kit for SLink and offer me appliers for them. Pretty please.
- Most makeup works pretty well on most skins, but lipstick is an exception. Lipstick works best when you get it from the person who drew your skin, so if you offer lots of colours of it, I will probably get them from you.
- If I were going to buy something like a freckle layer, different shading for stomachs, noses and cheeks, or dimples for faces or backs, I’d look first to the person who drew my skin. If you have those things in your shop, they will sell, because you can make them match my skin better than someone else can.
- For any addition that doesn’t go on the face itself, I would appreciate having those options on system layers (undershirt, shirt, etc.) It’s easy to run out of tattoo layers. I can put my cleavage on an undershirt and usually prefer to.
- Hairbases aren’t really necessary anymore. With mesh hair, people tend to wear an alpha anyway, and when you do need a hair base, it’s better to get it from the hair creator instead. It will match more nicely.
I think when tattoo layers came into play, a lot of skin makers wondered what they’d do when they couldn’t sell 20 makeup variations on skins. I can understand that concern, but I think you just have to approach your offering a little differently - I will buy SO many add-ons for a basic skin that I love. I have mostly stopped buying skins that don’t offer this kind of flexibility when it comes to styling.
Exhibit A: What I can see in SL, graphics on ultra, shadows enabled, caustics added via a projector next to me), captured via screencap.
Exhibit B, C, D: What SL gives me if I try to take a hi-res snapshot of A.
I LOVE YOU, TOO, SECOND LIFE. All I want is A, in 6000 pixels wide instead of 1200 pixels wide. That’s all.
I’m pretty sure that all three of my readers know that a person can hit enter to say things, and control + enter to shout things to the entire sim.
Fewer people realize that on viewers like Firestorm, a person can whisper by hitting shift + enter. What this does, technically speaking, is limit what you said to a range of something like 10m instead of the usual 20m.
What it does socially, though, is make you look like a creeper. I hit that key combo all the time and it is always a bit hilarious and horrifying to see something you meant quite normally to come out perv-coloured. Imagine accidentally whispering to someone, “You look really pretty today; I like your hair.”
"What are you doing later?"
"Want to see this photo I’m working on?"
Welcome to my socially awkward life.
(PS - One can also alt + enter to get ((out of character)) style chat.)
I know where to find
I don’t know your face
This always feels like an avatar song to me.
Modify them to work with xcite so they glow more and more red hot the more turned on the person gets.
Overheard in a discussion about prim breasts.
Even if I now saw you
I would long for you
[Old and unedited snapshot from one of my all time favourite toys, the skyroom. All hail people who understand particles.]
Because building avatar identity is critical, it’s important to let users customize it," said Sundar. "You are your avatar when it is customized.
In Plurk just now, someone I know asked about how to load a brush into Photoshop, and so many people answered immediately. I participate in many communities online and I honestly can’t think of any other place where more than one or two of my friends would have known the answer to this. I really love how SL draws in creative people and inspires them to learn more tools. That’s the best thing about it, to me.
I wanted to know you moved and breathed in the same world with me.
F. Scott Fitzgerald