Prim Perfect "How To" Guide:
Issue 1: What are these prims things anyway? A few hints for newcomers
You've been here a little while in Second Life - and you want to rent your first home. You find a place - well, it might be the palace of your wildest dreams or it might be a small handy box that will do to be going on with.
Can you afford it? Yes you can! And what's more, you're a faithful reader of Prim Perfect, the magazine and the blog, so you have lots of wonderful ideas about how to furnish it!
But what's this 'prim count' that the landlord keeps going on about? And why is he so very insistent that you keep within it?
You've heard about prims from reading Prim Perfect. You know that people there talk about 'high prim count' as though it was something naughty but nice - like cream cakes or a particularly intriguing poseball. And everyone seems to think that low prim count is awfully good. But ... why?
Well, let me let you into a little secret. Prim is the oil of Second Life. It's the vital substance that keeps us all moving - and there's never enough of it!
Everything in Second Life is made up of prims. They are the basic building blocks that create the world. In essence, they are simple shapes - a cube, a globe, a cone - and a few more besides (See Figure 1).
- You can stretch them or shrink them.
- You can twist them, hollow them out or contort them in various ways.
- You can apply rich textures to them ... or even make them transparent.
- You can make them so that you can walk through them - or you can have them stop your way as firmly as a brick wall.
- You can make them float in the merest breeze or make them impermeable to weapons.
- And, if you have the right advanced graphic packages, like Maya, you can sculpt them - which opens up all sorts of new and exciting possibilities of shaping our SL world.
But everything you do will need prims - the apartment or skybox or castle that you live in, the chair you sit on, the path you walk along, the clothes you wear - even your hair - all are made out of prims. And you'd be surprised how many prims something can contain without you even realising it!
Let's try an experiment.
Right click on the nearest chair (see Figure 2).
From the menu that comes up, select Edit. Clicking on that will bring up the Edit menu - usually to the top left of your screen - unless you've been fiddling with it.
Make sure it is fully extended to show its lower pane (if you can only see the small, upper pane, click 'more' in the bottom right corner - see Figure 3).
Look at the edit screen (see Figure 4) until you see something like "I Object, 5 Primitives". That's the prim count for your chair (and it might well be more than 5 prims).
Now - unless you're wearing the default hair - right click on your own hair and select edit. See how many prims there are? Probably far more than are in your chair!
Every area in SL is assigned a number of prims, depending on the size and the amount of money that the owner pays.
Therefore, a landlord will carefully divide up how many prims each tenant is allowed to have. Essentially, the more elaborate the build, the fewer prims that the owner will be able to given individual tenants. And generally speaking, the more money you pay, the greater the number of prims you will be able to use. In most cases, it's a balancing act.
Fortunately, the prims that you actually wear - whether on your head or in your clothes - don't form part of your land prims. So you can have an elaborate hair style that carries more prims than your entire house - and it won't matter, because it won't count.
Well, not unless you take your hair off, drop it on the floor and leave it overnight. That would not amuse your landlord - if he goes over his prim limit, he'll be charged a higher tier!
But the more prims that there are in an area, the slower and laggier it will become. You may have found areas like that yourself - a very rich environment that it's hard to walk through. Or a popular event or concert where it's almost impossible to move because of the number of people present. So most landlords will want to keep prim count on the land as low as possible to allow traffic within the sim to move easily and lag-free.
And that's why, in Prim Perefect magazine, you'll be reading about many clever tricks to keep prim count as low as possible!