Monday, February 5, 2007

Filling a need

When I first moved in with Patrice, almost five months ago, she had just set up a house on a beach on Goddess Island. As I recall, the land stayed pretty much as it started. It was flat, and there wasn't even much vegetation.

When we moved to Iron Fist, which was modelled after a Greek island, Patrice did a lot more shaping and landscaping of our parcel. Later, she had the opportunity to shape the land for her Gorean panther tribe. She turned that land into a place of beauty, with a gorge through which ran a river, a forest for fighting cover, and a secret cave. In the process, she discovered two important things: she loved terraforming, and she was good at it.

On the Second Life website, there are lists of ways to make money in SL. Most of them don't make much money, or are difficult to do successfully. Terraforming—land shaping—isn't even on the list, but Patrice figured out that it might be a niche that was not well served. There are builders and scripters galore, but not too many people who are skilled at shaping land.

Ever tried terraforming? Using the built-in land editing tools, I have found that it's very easy to turn land into an ugly expanse of odd bumps, grooves, and massive heaving piles. It can be like that old cartoon about rigor mortis where there's this stiff on a gurney, and when someone pushes the legs down, up pops the torso, and vice versa. Ever since I lifted the office into the sky above my first land, I've taken to messing up my own tiny parcel instead of wrecking our east beach and creating more work for Patrice. I'm a little better at terraforming than I used to be, but it's still difficult to shape land the way I want it.

Building is mathematical and linear. You really can get exactly what you plan for, as long as you can do the arithmetic (and sometimes a bit of trigonometry). With land, I think you're working with fractals or something, and you can't directly see what's going on. So terraforming is both a science and an art, and probably a fair amount of magic and voodoo as well.

Patrice started a business offering terraforming services. It didn't take long for the need to find her. She has been working almost steadily since shortly after the business opened. For her, it's not just a job. It's a passion. She has done projects ranging from a small garden to entire sims. Much if not most of her business comes from word of mouth. You know you're doing something right when that's happening.

The photo is from Legenda, a real showpiece for Patrice's work. I love this shot, which Patrice took for her portfolio. It looks like a place I would really want to visit. I have a thing for gorges, especially when spanned by stone bridges.

Is this advertising for Patrice's business? Damn straight. Hey, it's my blog! And I'm really proud of her. She found a thing she loves and has a talent for, works hard continually at learning whatever she does not yet know, practises her skills to become better and better, and does a good job managing the more mundane aspects of the venture. And she's only beginning. Chances are that as time goes on, more and more of Second Life will bear her stamp. As Martha Stewart would say, that's a good thing.

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