Low prim home improvement

I’ve been messing around with my skybox for the past few days, trying to make it presentable on a very low prim budget. Since it was so low, the standard 117 primitives of a 512 square meters plot that comes with a normal paid account, it involved not only picking extremely low prim furniture, but also, wracking my head trying to find clever tricks to save a few more primitives. Here’s some of the tips I managed to accumulate along the way:

  1. The minimum possible number of prims required to create a completely enclosed empty box is 3 — a box hollowed out to the maximum with both ends capped by panels. Being inside a hollowed object presents some annoyances, because the camera tries to focus on the outside faces, but for a skybox that’s actually more of a benefit than a disadvantage, because it makes it harder to get your camera in while being outside — and privacy is a major consideration for having a skybox at all. This however is far harder to texture sensibly than a 4-prim construct that consists of two tapered hollow cubes, each of which comprises two walls, and two caps for floor and ceiling, which is the one I settled on.
  2. It is possible to create very large boxes like this through the use of megaprims, which incurs massive prim savings, almost 15% of the total in my case. In fact, I’d say, use them whenever you can get away with it, as long as they are not physical or flexible, there were no ill effects I could observe whatsoever. All operations except changing the size are still possible with megaprims, including changing the primitive type. However, only new megaprims should be used, the sets created before 2008 that I’ve come across have a very peculiar property of having the center of the bounding box far outside the actual body of the prim. This may result in the center of the prim, the one that the sim believes to be it’s center, being off your land even while the body of the prim is inside — I lost a wall to that twice through having it autoreturned, before I noticed it and turned the prim around so that the center was on my property. New megaprims do not have this issue. Old megaprims are probably highly useful for griefing in this manner, since you can easily position them in such a way as to completely enclose a neighbor’s build while the center is still on your land, so that they cannot be returned.
  3. Window tint control in a skybox is just silly, unless you built a platform and put a standard house on it. Texturing the outer wall with a non-transparent texture and the inner one with a window texture saves primitives. Windows don’t always make sense in a skybox at all, for that matter.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to build far above the 768 meters of altitude, this belief has been true once, but it no longer is so in the current simulator versions. In fact, objects can exist as far as 4096 meters up — to be more precise, the center of any object can be located no higher than 4096 meters, visible bodies can extend beyond that. It is tricky to keep your build aligned to your land boundaries so high up in the air, though. To do this, you can precisely position a megaprim platform that covers your parcel completely on ground level and then just manually type the new Z coordinate, and align your build to that. Pretty much nobody seems to live above 700 meters save for a few forgotten cages, and I can’t help but wonder what happened to the occupants of those.
  5. Things advertised as “Low prim” often aren’t, and that particularly concerns furniture. In an environment with no shadows normally rendered, as in current SL, texture quality and resolution frequently matters quite a bit more than the number of effective polygons, while the trend in furniture is often more and more prims for extra detail. The lowest prim bathroom set I’ve seen counted some 26 prims, I managed to assemble one in only 15, and what’s more surprising, it looks quite a bit more realistic through smart use of sculpties to create complex porcelain shapes. Effective use of sculpties in furniture is still an art not really mastered by the designers, it appears.
  6. Sculpted stairs beat textured ramps and even spirals any day.
  7. Temp rezzers are bad. Don’t use them. At least, don’t try to use them to display high-prim sculptures and furnish whole rooms. However, there is a legitimate use for a temp rezzer in a household. By definition, the “temporary” parameter of a prim is meant for things that will be around for only part the time, and interestingly, that has it’s own merits with things like prop food, which would look highly silly if it were around unchanged for days.
  8. You can have two pictures on opposite walls for one less prim if you stick the prim through the wall and texture opposite sides differently.

Looking rather good so far, don’t you think?

I still have a few prims to spare.

I still have a few prims to spare.