I recently wrote about my purchase of the CONVAIR Edelweiss Chalet and work on modifying it for use on our main island home (see: A little Edelweiss in Second Life). The article prompted a request from BarbarA for me to go into more detail about how I go about such work – and it’s not the first time I’ve received such a request.
Truth is, and for a variety of reasons (e.g. how any particular house is put together, what someone might want to do with a house, etc.), providing a step-by-step guide to modding a house isn’t really practical. So instead, I’ve tried to provide a set of more general notes focused on how I go about things.
Obviously, any modding requires some basic skills:
- An understanding of the core Build functions (e.g. creating prims; moving / rotating / resizing objects; using Shift-select; linking (CTRL-L) and unlinking (CTRL-SHIT-L) objects / object parts; use of the Show Transparent Prims toggle (CRTL-ALT-T).
- Knowledge of texturing: how to select object faces, apply textures, scale and (possibly) rotate them; how to use Local Textures to “test fit” textures you may wish to upload from your computer & use; and a basic appreciation of basic texture memory use. Note that “seamless” textures are generally best for buildings.
- A basic understanding of the permissions system, particularly the Modify and Copy permissions (the former is vital to any form of modification, since without it you won’t be able to alter a building so easily; latter a nice-to-have).
An article like this isn’t really the place to go into any of the above in particular depth, so I refer those who need to learn more about editing and building in SL, I’m including some links to resources at the end.
My General Approach
I tend to approach modding any building as a 3-step process:
- Determine what is to be done. For example: will the work require combining parts of different buildings? Will it involve integrating items from other creators? Will it require inclusion of purpose-made new prim elements (e.g. walls, floors, etc.)?
- Visit a copy of the building in-world (e.g. a copy displayed at an in-world store or found in a public region) before any purchase and:
- Confirm it has the required permissions (generally Copy and Modify).
- Examine the use of textures to determine if they might need replacing / make require replacing as a result of my changes (e.g. because some surfaces have shadows or lighting effects “baked” into a texture.
- Check how the building has been put together, and whether the desired changes can easily be made (e.g. by removing parts), or whether there might be complications / whether you may have to include “replacement” prim parts yourself.
- Look at the general structure of the building and whether simple structural changes can be made to improve LI.
- Revise plans accordingly after (2.), and if the decision is made to go ahead, break the work down into logical steps and complete each in turn.
Checking the Suitability of a Building for Modding
There are a couple of reasons why textures might need to be replaced:
- They don’t meet the desired aesthetics.
- They include “baked” details that may not be wanted.
In the case of the latter, some baked details may be easy to spot – as per the image below left, other may be harder to identify, such as with the image below right, and may not be revealed until you actually start physically altering the build, should you go ahead. However, in both cases, it’s worth checking the faces (surfaces) of a building that you might want / need to re-texture.
Carrying out such checks is pretty straightforward:
- Visit a copy of the building in-world and right-click on it and select Edit from the menu.
- In the Edit floater, do two things:
- Click on the Edit Linked selection box to make sure it is ticked (enabled).
- Click on the Select Face radio button to enable it as well.
- Finally, left-click on the surface in the building you would like to re-texture to display the texturing cross-hairs.
Note that some builders incorporate transparent prims in their builds (e.g. in walls and floors). Such prims can get in the way of checking surfaces, so you must keep an eye out for them. There are two ways to do this:
- By pressing CTRL-ALT-T: this will highlight all transparent surfaces in red. If a part of the red is highlighted, then you have likely selected a face of the transparent prim.
- With the surface selected, click on the Texture tab in the Edit floater. If the Transparency % spinner is set to 100, you have selected the face of a transparent prim.
Should you find you’re actually selecting a transparent prim face instead of the surface you want, I’m afraid there is no easy solution except manoeuvring your camera in as close as possible to the surface you want, and then trying to select it. To assist with this, go to the Advanced menu (use CTRL-SHIT-ALT-D to display the Advanced menu if not already enabled) and make sure Disable Camera Constraints is checked (click it if not).
With the required surface selected, check around it carefully for any of the following:
- If the cross-hairs / highlighting on a wall / floor / ceiling extend into other rooms beyond the one you’re checking (e.g. a neighbouring wall / floor).
- Whether the highlighting extends to other features within the surface you’ve selected (e.g. if you’re checking a wall with a window frame, is the frame also highlighted, or if you are checking a door, is the handle and other furniture also highlighted?).
- Do any other parts of the house you might not expect to be highlighted appear to be so?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then the items that are highlighted will also be affected by any texture you apply. This doesn’t mean you cannot necessarily go ahead with your ideas, just that you may revise what your re-texture or how you go about your alterations (e.g. might your problem be overcome by adding a prim and texturing that?).