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Sunday, February 12, 2012


It's a long way down
Sarah McLachlan, Ice Cream
Ask RAG Randt what one word best describes his SL experience, and he'll say '3D '. Which says a lot about him; a person of depth and purpose, touched with an persistent sense of delight at the freedom which that third dimension gives a graphic artist - the opportunity to draw the audience even deeper into his design.

RAG, aka Richard Goldberg, is a professional artist and illustrator of such books at 'Pull My Flagellum' and 'Notes from the Commode' as well as numerous posters and greetings cards. Am I Dreaming? is a half-sim pilgrimage-style install with an icy twist, inspired by the sight of his small niece in close proximity to large quantities of chocolate birthday cake. The child's rapturous words have become, in Second Life, a rhapsody to the unalloyed delight of childhood where all good things tumble around the visitor as the story unfolds.

This is a linear experience. From the landing point onwards, you're set on a strict path, with notecards to read, and no point-to point tp'ing. (Dang, should'a studied harder at Arrow School.) As RAG points out in his instructions, some lag must be dealt with. The easiest way to manage is by toggling your graphics quality from Low to High, allowing you to walk the line, but not to miss the atmospheric quality of each scene when you arrive.
RAG found that his original inspiration grew and developed as he built the sets, making it a genuine child of 3D. The cat is called Strawberry, and this scene comes with a choice of sprinkles or no sprinkles.
RAG Randt: I hand draw the lines, and then the paint the textures and combine in Photoshop. The hardest thing is getting the patterns on the pajamas to read well at 512 resolution, and I hope I succeeded. Capturing the imagination of a child in a way adults can also enjoy isn't easy, but I believe 3D storytelling has great potential. To go from a 2D illustrator to 3D is VERY exciting!
Hannah, Richard's niece and muse, found the build exciting too - at 4 years old, she was mesmerized by what her uncle had made. Mission accomplished, then.

SL Hannah sleeps in a Goodnight Moonlight world which is open to possibilities, and yet grounded in the practical wisdom and semi secrets of the very small. Let your inner child click everything, for there are trap doors, secret rooms, poses and passages you may miss if you try to go too fast.

Walking through the bedroom, you step out onto a long, skinny jetty. It's a place where you can either sit in companionable silence with our little dreamer, or leap out from the edge of the world, letting both imagination and avatar take flight.

From sky to seabed, a pair of dark little wings lift you across the build, finally bringing you to rest underwater, on the sidelines of a mermaid's sporting event.
RAG Randt: Watch out, it's a pretty serious game of kick-the-clam! I love SL, and intend building here and in other virtual worlds for many years to come. I have done some work in Inworldz also. The possibilities are infinite, and there are so many great 3D people here, it's very inspiring.

Do dreams have a temperature? Here, the primary colours of infancy melt into the muted tones of uncertainty: a dream, or a reality? It's as if RAG himself can't quite believe his luck at finding such a satisfying medium, such a sweet message. The cool environments pass from one toy-type to another, forming a storybook safari that is cleverly original (cleverly, in this age of copyright paranoia) but also heartwarming, fresh, and funny.

Journey's end with (chocolate) lover's meeting; this is a trip you're going to adore, and a build that's sure to attract machinimists and Koinup operators alike. Be smart and visit  Am I Dreaming? in the off-peak hours if you possibly can.

The build is so definitely a storybook, it deserves a permanent 'shelf', and RAG's looking around for sim-space in which to keep it for the long term. In any case, his LEA experience has been positive, and he's applied for an upgrade from half- to a full sim soon. But RL comes first...
RAG Randt: I will be leaving on a 10 day vacation starting SL! Can one have fun without the internet, do you know? Hmm, I may have to read a book or something. Perhaps some sci fi by Silverberg...
Thirza Ember: With all this dream stuff, not Freud then?
 RAG Randt: lol, no I am a Jungian.
Jung at heart. I like that.

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