Monday, September 26, 2005


The Extraordindary Avatar Expo was last month's showcase for some the strangest, weirdest, and most fantastic non-human avatars created in Second Life. Voters at the Expo selected five Residents from 50 nominees, and I'll be profiling them over the next couple weeks...

Psyra Extraordinaire on the inspiration for his Arabian Phoenix

The original inspiration was from a republished story over 100 years old by Edith Nesbit called "The Phoenix and the Carpet"... I'd remodelled it based on various "classical" pictures of phoenixes from the Internet, as they all seemed to carry a few similar themes. Though it's an 'Arabian' phoenix it has a few features from other cultures' renditions of [the bird.]

On building the avatar

The phoenix evolved out of my first bird [avatar], the magpie. In fact, the body itself retained the original shape from the magpie, as did the legs. But the feet, head, tail, and wings, all went through several redesigns, improvements, and add-ons. It's thirteen objects in total, and includes scripts for the animation override, blinking eyes, opening and closing beak, toes that 'grip' when in flight, the flame-ey texture cycling on about 250 of the prims, and the particle flames when in flight. Also includes a custom Away From Keyboard [gesture]-- eyes closed and emitting a wispy trail of "Zzzzzz's", a harmless particle-based flamethrower-like breath thing from the mouth...

Prim-wise, it's at 406! I am not sure how to count the scripts, but I'd say there's about 400-500 total. No fooling-- my scripting knowledge is pretty limited... so my wings and tail, for one thing, have a script in every prim. And since there's a tail and pair of wings for fly AND walk [mode], that's almost twice as many as you see at one time.

The phoenix isn't and never will be sold mostly because the incredible amount of scripts and terribly non-efficient code causes some distress in slower machines (I know this from first-hand experience). Perhaps I'll make a non-animated version in the future that is more client friendly.

On becoming a phoenix

Before Second Life I was generally a dragon type of person, I had always assumed. I drew them, had fun creating them in art, and all that. But a few years ago, I adopted (some may claim this was the other way around) a raven at my old house. To put a long story into short form, I had a [wild mostly] raven that paid visits regularily, about twice or three times a week, every winter... So I got to reading about them and getting to know some first hand stuff about birds. I suppose being able to physically SEE and TOUCH them, rather than just dream about dragons or such, turned me from dragons to birds as my "focus". Discovering how smart they were (Archie knew how to unclasp the screen from my window from the outside and get in if I wasn't home.)

I'm a pretty friendly and gentle person I've been told (I hate fighting, I don't drink, I don't smoke, etc) and figured from the books that's a pretty pure thing. The phoenix is about as pure as birds get, and after reading all the various versions of the legends, I figured it was what I wanted to make in Second Life back in October of 2004. A greeter avatar based on something fantastic, but yet recognizeable, and gentle and down-to-earth. Dragons had been done to death, as did most other animals.

[In SL] I tend to be sort of the "gentle presense", giving out hugs and trying to give folks new to Second Life a feeling that there's a friendly, sociable aspect in here and folks shouldn't judge the whole of SL by what aberrant behavior they may see in the first days.

That, and act all confused and truly baffled when people call me a chicken. I mean, they don't fly, they don't got no tail like this. Perhaps some folks need corrective lenses.

Additional features of the phoenix

[T]he ability to blast solid projectile fireballs... [smiling] though they are not set to push or damage, and only have a 20-meter-range before they die.

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Maybe some of those chicken-callers need to have Psyra's "additional feature" launched at them so they'll wake up and pay attention after seeing the light. ^_^

I salute Psyra, a purveyor of excellent SL culture. He's been such a familiar, comforting sight in (both designs of) the WA during my tenure in SL. I remember that time the WA Guidelines was put up in the old one, and Psyra explained how he checked it out with a Linden (I forget which one) that his av, including particle effects, was not disruptive to others. What consideration! Or the time where he talked about dragging a script into each prim. What dedication!

In either case, I'm saying this in part because I'm *tremendously* enjoying his recent creation, a "Melonjay" he made in my favorite colors—I've fondly identified as another parallel-world'd Torley and named Torlavian. It's a fullcycle flight heading forwards, since he was one of the first avs I ever saw upon arriving on these shores. And now, featherively, I have become more like him.

Psyra's a bird of a feather that makes more of us want to flock together. =^_^=

Posted by: Torley Wong/Torley Torgeson at Sep 26, 2005 6:31:48 AM

Squeak! I like how it was written and all, but Psyra is a MALE! Not a She! =D

I suppose I need to get one of those big Austin Powers style necklaces now. :D

Posted by: Psyra Extraordinaire at Sep 26, 2005 6:17:18 PM

Good lord, sorry, I should have double checked that. Initiating gender re-assignment in 3, 2, 1...

Posted by: Hamlet Linden at Sep 27, 2005 12:09:27 AM

Hahaha I can relate to that all too well!

Posted by: Torley Wong/Torley Torgeson at Sep 27, 2005 1:39:54 PM

I like the concept of 2D art becoming 3D. Psyra does this well *inspired* and metaversically speaking, people with excellent websites full of art, especially art of a 'classical' nature, are good for SL and the real world in general.

Posted by: Daz Honey at Oct 8, 2005 11:52:53 AM