I love Dolphins, it has to be said. I’ve been a member of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society for years, and have a long-standing dream of one day swimming with dolphins.
Which is why I was irresistibly drawn to the Interactive Dolphin Trick Show at SL8B. This is a stunning example of what can be achieved creatively within Second Life: beautifully sculpted dolphins which will swim of their own accord – but which will also respond to commands, displaying all the charm and skill of rl dolphins as they perform tricks and / or swim through the water with you.
The dolphins – Flipper and Cutie – are the result of a collaboration between Crissi Yoshikawa and Avi Savira, two people literally from opposite sides of the world (one in the UK, the other in Hawaii) who have been brought together through the unique magic of Second Life.
More than just a demonstration of the capabilities of SL as a modelling / scripting medium, the dolphins are a celebration of the friendship that Crissi and Avi have established, as they explained when I met them poolside at SL8B.
“At the time we met, Avi was quite new to SL and had just started to learn to build,” Crissi explained. “Whereas Crissi was making beach items with basic scripts for sale in her Tropical Creations shop,” Avi added. “Crissi then learned to make awesome sculpty textures for low prim sculpted objects,” she continued, “Such as palm trees and seagulls and these very realistic three prim dolphins.”
“Avi imagined the dolphins becoming much more real and swimming freely in the oceans of SL,” Crissi interjected with a smile, “So she set herself the goal of scripting, and SL began to work its magic!”
Initially the pair came up with a dolphin that randomly free swims around a settable area doing various tricks. Then they added a free-swimming baby dolphin which will also randomly follow her mother. Even so, neither were satisfied, and set themselves the goal of creating a truly interactive dolphin.
Te result is quite possibly one of the most endearing and fun animal creations in Second Life – the dolphin will not only do tricks, but can be fed and ridden as well – and with minimal script overheads. “Crissi tested my scripts with a sledgehammer to get them perfected,” Avi notes with a shy smile. Not only are the dolphins well-scripted, they are incredibly well textured; quite possibly the finest level of detail I’ve yet seen on dolphins in SL. “Crissi made the textures that make them look so real,” Avi states proudly as Crissi moves to put Flipper through his paces.
I watch for the next few minutes as Crissi has Flipper swimming, jumping and standing on his tail, before I have a go myself. Even as a novice dolphin trainer, I find Flipper only too happy to oblige – although apparently he can be a bit tricky with riders, having a certain penchant for playfully dumping them off his back!
But why dolphins? “I’ve swum with dolphins in Hawaii,” Crissi admits, making me somewhat envious that she gets “swum with dolphins” and “Hawaii” into the same sentence. “I’ve also swum with them once,” Avi states, increasing my envy. “They are so cool,” Crissi continues, “And we wanted to bring that experience to SL, so anyone anywhere could experience it.”
And it is the ability to ride these dolphins far more than any ability to make them perform tricks that makes them so incredibly attractive, as Avi and Crissi both demonstrated for me as we chatted (I was hardly dressed to jump into the water!).
I’ve yet to fulfil my dream of swimming with dolphins in rl, but at least I know I can now savour it in Second Life, thanks to both Crissi and Avi; two people brought together by the magic of SL, and who have invested their time and creativity to share that magic with the rest of us.
The Interactive Dolphin Trick show performs daily at 6:00am, 12:00pm and 6:00pm SLT, and you can see the dolphins and ride them yourself at all other times during SL8B; find it on SL8B Spectacular. If you want a dolphin or two for yourself, you can find them at Crissi’s shop at Mocis.