avatar customizing

My blue avatar

Walking, running, flying, and teleporting around a vast flat world, almost free to explore, surely is one of the key features which make up Second Life‘s (SL) attractivity. Another key feature is the high moddability of your personal avatar. You not only can change clothes by drag and drop, but your whole appearance as well. For example every single female avatar I met so far had the looks of a gorgeous top model, see people. Even at the top notch graphics settings I am running SL at those avatars and their outfits look pretty much perfect. So I deem them to be professional products, not the results of everyday users frickling about. In other words, they are bought. Everybody I asked about that readily confessed accordingly. All right people, although I am a complete n00b in SL terms, you still are dealing with a veteran game modder here. Before I am going to buy a 3D-mesh, I will run around with the generic avatar till the end of days. That of course is in a way cool ;-) but a little unsatisfactory.

Having gotten a little tired and bored from my journeys I settled at a convenient place, opened up the appearance menu and started to fool around. Once I had found the sliders for controlling the skin colour, and having achieved some azure blue, I remembered yet another childhood hero of mine: Fantomas as interpreted by Jean Marais in André Hunebelle‘s movie trilogy. What fascinated me so much as a kid, was that Fantomas is the master of disguise, able to impersonate everyone to perfection. Well, in SL everybody has this ability, at least concerning outward appearance. So I thought let’s try to achieve the generic look of the master of disguises, and further on run around in this very shape all the time, without changing appearance anymore. Some clandestine twisted joke that would be, just like the “Zephyrin Raymaker” thing. Right to my taste.

Jean Marais as Fantomas

On the left screen I ran SL in a window, on the right screen I fired up a browser and started to hunt down Jean Marais as Fantomas. As far as I can remember the movies, the center pic is from the first one, the right one from the final scene of the second. The female in the background is doctored in by somebody, she doesn’t appear in the movie. The pic to the far left may stem from the third and final movie of the trilogy, but I am not sure. Having this pictures plus some more open on the right screen, I tried to shape my avatar’s head accordingly on the left screen.

Avatar as Jean Marais as Fantomas

That’s the best I could cook up so far with the ingame interface for changing the avatar’s shape. The problem is threefold. First of all the ingame interface of course is by far less powerful than a real 3D-visualization application like 3dsmax, Maya, or even Milkshape. Secondly my quick’n’dirty online search for reference pictures generated poor material. Thirdly, the appearance of Fantomas in the three movies by Hunebelle changes significantly. That starts with his skin colour, which ranges from blueish, via bluegray, greengray, greenish, to flat grey. The facial features of the latex mask also change very much, even within one and the same movie. Word has it that there’s a box around for purchase, containing all three movies, and maybe bonus material, on DVDs. So I’ll check the local dealers and catch the DVDs. Furthermore I downloaded some of the so-called developer content for “Second Life”, like an avatar mesh, templates for the textures, and the like. Things to come …

Pimpy spaceship

Starting to only making things worse by going on to distort the head, I decided to do some more travelling and try to find some surroundings and ambience matching my “new” avatar, and what I associate with it. At “Nexus Prime”, which is situated in a patch called “Gibson”, I found this spaceship featuring a late sixties/early seventies pimpy plush interior.

Jules-Verne-goes-high-tech style submarine

Somewhere other I found the perfect item. A trashy Jules-Verne-goes-high-tech style submarine. At the end of the first of Hunebelle’s Fantomas movies, Fantomas escapes in a little submarine, which in a way comes close to the one depicted. By the way, the illustration accompanying pulp surrealism shows Fantomas inside that very submarine, giving orders to his skipper. Yes, indeed, that’s the kind of movies I watched over and over again as a kid. Little mosaic parts falling into place.

Louis-Feuillade style Fantomas in Second Life

Just minutes before SL crashed on me, some glitch threw my avatar back into an even more generic appearance, reminiscent of the original Fantomas silent movies by Louis Feuillade

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