How Second Life Works

Creating Things in Second Life

With a little practice, you can build your resident a pretty sweet ride.
With a little practice, you can build your resident a pretty sweet ride.
Second Life

Absolutely every object, building and flying car you see in Second Life was created by a Resident. The basics of object creation are easy, but it takes a lot of practice and some serious scripting capabilities to make the really impressive stuff. Fortunately, there's a designated place in Second Life for you to practice these skills: the sandbox. The sandbox is a public space where residents practice building different objects.

You can open the object creation tool three ways:

  • Click the "build" button at the bottom of the screen
  • Right-click on the ground or any empty space and choose "create" from the options wheel
  • Press cmd-4 (ctrl-4 on Mac)

When you open the object creation tool, the default window is "create," indicated by a magic wand symbol. At the top of the window is a list of the 15 prims -- basic shapes like cubes, cones and tubes -- available to Second Life users. A seasoned builder knows how to stretch, cut, link and multiply these prims to create everything from a hotel to a Ferrari.

Here are some of the basic building options:

  • Create an object by choosing a prim shape and clicking on the ground or any open space.
  • In the "edit" window, you can move, rotate, stretch or change the texture of the object. (The default texture is wood.)
  • Use the "object" tab in the edit window to enter precise measurements, rotation angles and more advanced features like tapering and twisting.
  • In the "texture" tab, you can choose from existing textures in your Inventory and edit their color and shading.
  • You can link objects together by selecting multiple shapes and pressing ctrl-L.
  • Copy objects by simply selecting an object, holding down the Shift key and dragging the object.
  • Check the "use grid" box in the edit menu to see helpful on-screen rulers as you stretch, move and rotate your objects.

With just these simple tools and key controls, you can make almost any stationary object in Second Life. But if you want to bring your creations to life -- give them movement and interactivity -- you'll have to learn the Linden Scripting Language (LSL). LSL is most similar to the C programming language. There are many Web sites and online tutorials for learning basic and advanced LSL scripts. You can even find a few at the Second Life forums.

To attach a script to a Second Life object, click on the "scripts" tab in the edit menu and click "new script." Within the script editor is a pull-down menu with dozens of common scripting commands. Although, without a basic understanding of LSL, you can't just piece together a working script with those commands.

One of the cool things about Second Life is that you retain intellectual property rights for every object you create in-world. With those rights, you can choose to allow other people to edit your objects or not. You can also assign a price tag to an object and sell it on the Second Life marketplace, which we'll learn more about later.

In the next section, we'll take a closer look at Second Life residents.