Most of us have seen the Luna Lunaria builds, her artistic expression is seen in the use of her textures. Aesthetically pleasing, vibrant. Her work is acclaimed by the many clients who love and obtain her builds, I am one. We have installed her Ballroom and Club on our regions and they are just incredible features.
I wanted to learn more about Luna, she is fascinating. She works on projects that expand the mind; I love that!
MM What current projects are you working on?
LL First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your magazine. I love what you’re doing and how your magazine showcases so may artists and places in Opensim. I am always thinking, planning, and creating and currently I have multiple projects going: building a Japanese castle complex; migrating much more of my works to Kitely Market; working on a large Art Deco style music venue; working on concepts, story lines, and artistic direction for a new game called Starlite a friend is developing; and continuing to write my book, Eos Renascent. Lol, that sounds like a lot now that I look at it.
MM Luna, I have been purchasing your builds for a few years now. When did you venture here to opensim?
LL I’ve had friends in SL who from the beginning of Opensim would talk me into visiting various grids at the time such as OpenLife, Osgrid, Avination, and later Inworldz. Eventually a group of us established a homestead on SimValley but lost it all a year later when the grid crashed permanently. The same scenario happened at our next grid, Lost Paradise, when the owner passed away. So, I threw in the OS towel for a couple of years and concentrated on my SL store.
But my friends were persistent and eventually talked me into joining them on OpensimLife grid run by Bill Blight. It was there I learned to truly build in OS and fell in love with it. I’ve been on Bill’s grid now for almost four years, and though it has changed names a couple of times since then - currently YCFS – it’s still the same lovely place (YCFS=You Can’t Fix Stupid. Bill’s idea of a running joke lol). I also have an avatar on many other grids as well, in case I get the urge to expand even more. My favorite fun thing to do is bring 5-7 Lunas all together at one event and have them make snarky remarks at each other.
MM What has been your biggest hurdle here in opensim?
LL My biggest challenge in Opensim has been the lack of a unified media channel that serves all grids. Google+ was our defacto social media hub when I first started selling in OS, but since its demise nothing has truly risen to fill that gargantuan void. As a result, the diverse voices and communities in Opensim have become fractured and isolated. It has become nearly impossible now for educational, roleplay, themed, spiritual, and merchant regions to stand out from the entertainment venues.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a great DJ or live event and love to dance as much as anyone, and I love building new venues to make these events even more awesome, but Opensim needs diversity to attract and motivate new users and creators who will make OS much more vibrant in the years to come. My greatest worry is that Opensim becomes what my son’s generation already thinks it is: that virtual place where old people go to dance.
MM Only a few years ago the Opensim economy was thriving including a range of commercial to free items across a range of interests and qualities. Over a very short span of time the “Never buy in Opensim” slogan went from a posted suggestion to a battle cry and some sort of personal right. It changed our shared freedom into conditional freedom. "Free" does not equal "freedom"; the cost may be higher than we know.
Many of our friends closed their shops and left virtual worlds because of the newly designed pressure. I eventually chose to stay, and invited peace by yielding selling my designs, now offered free.
Choosing to be a part of Opensim, and choosing to imagine new designs and ideas into being is not a crime. Yet it seemed a losing battle. The persons who promote the “Never buy in Opensim” don’t care to understand opensim merchants or how it hurts them personally, being attacked. They seem to feel that our dwindling merchants are trying to turn Opensim into another commercial virtual place, such as SL.
I don’t see it that way. My designs were my only source of income. The software was not free, the time it took to learn the software and develop specialized skills was years, the work was (and is) original, not copied. Asking for a small fee should not be considered a crime. It is a stimulant to involve, include, and to invite a wider variety of Opensim people, with their new ideas.
We already say "make your own choices" about the sex or entertaining constantly promoted in Opensim. It all belongs here, we all belong here, as a balanced, diverse community. Those that want to design should not be shamed into not doing so. I have seen you face the pattern of struggles many of us faced, I had them. You haven’t given up, I admire you.
What advice can you give to persons just starting out?
LL Have tons of patience and a thick skin, and when your critics become vocal, and they will, focus on the passion to create that drives you. I didn’t start out to sell in SL or OS, I wanted to create, and keep on creating, pushing myself to become better than I was the week before. But starting out in SL, you quickly learn there is no free ride and you have to pay to play. I had to find a way to pay my virtual bills and pay for the resources I needed to make better things. My goal then was to break even on monthly land tier and have enough left over for the uploads I would need. I reached that point after two years of steadily working at it, then began to bring in enough extra money to pay some RL bills and to donate in-world to causes I had a passion for.
When I came to Opensim, I approached it the same way: the hobby had to be able to pay its own way. Contrary to what many in Opensim believe, creators have costs, even though there’s much here that’s free, such as uploads, or at extremely reduced cost, such as land. I would never think of going to the local RL ice cream shop down the street and demand they give me ice cream for free, then picket their store front when they refuse and call them greedy grifters. They have overhead and they need their business to support them.
I get why there are some here who want everything to be free, because very little is free in SL. They literally nickel and dime you to death there. But Opensim is a grand idea, and there’s room here for all of us to coexist and have our spaces without dragging the other down. We can continue to keep costs down without throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. There will always be creators who want to sell as well as those who want share everything freely. I personally like to do both. But if we try to limit what people can do and be here, they will leave, and we will all be the poorer for it.
MM What software programs do you use in your work?
LL For creating textures I use Gimp, for creating sounds I use Audacity, and for mesh I use Blender. All are opensource and free to download and use. A word of warning though: blender is not intuitive and has a LONG learning curve, but it is incredibly powerful and versatile once you put in the time. Fortunately, there are some great tutorials on Youtube.
MM I am always impressed by your texture work, it is impeccable. What tips can you share?
LL My goal with textures is always either realism or the ethereal. Without textures, everything in OS is just a wooden box. I spend twice as much time texturing a build as I do actually making it, and I have been known to create ten or more textures just to find the one that fits the literal vision I have in my head for that one surface.
For most surfaces, except for those rare few which will be full bright such as lights, I usually always create three textures: the diffuse texture you see, a normal map which gives it bumpiness, and a specular map which gives it shine. I start with the main texture in Gimp first, many times beginning with real photos with proper licenses (from sites such as textures.com), then heavily modifying them to fit my own mental image. After that, it only takes about five minutes to create the other two from it in Gimp as well. Normal maps require a plugin for Gimp that is readily available for free. As of recently, I had over 15,000 textures I had created, which are organized on my computer by type, which makes searching extremely fast compared to slow-rezzing texture holders in world. These are all backed up on cloud storage so they are not lost if my computer dies.
In line with my goal of realism is also making use of the tools that OS code and the viewer make available to me. I make full use of advanced lighting model, EEP, shadows, materials, and glow to achieve great effects. Full bright textures are the bane of realism in Opensim because they make nearly all the tools above unusable. For that reason, I strive to make textures that will take full advantage of graphics capabilities, yet still look good if none of them are accessible to the user.
MM Do you create mesh too?
LL I am only starting to branch out a little in making completely original mesh objects, mostly creating parts and components that make up larger builds. While I am comfortable manipulating mesh on a smaller scale in Blender, I still prefer to use a mix of prim and mesh in my larger builds for physics and vertex count reasons. I also still prefer to texture in-world, but I’m learning more and more how to do that in Blender as well.
MM What tips and advice can you give the new creator?
LL Make what you love without worrying if it will sell, and make it the very best you can make it. It will sell itself when the time comes, if that’s what you want to do.
Use all the resources and tools available to you and constantly try to learn new skills.
Challenge yourself by choosing projects that will expand your skillset
Sit in on live tutorials in world. Even after 14 years, I still use many of the techniques I learned in those early classes.
Revisit your builds regularly to see how you can improve them. My first build in SL was a castle to live in because I couldn’t afford to buy one at the time. Over the years I rebuilt that one four times as my skills sharpened and I learned new things.
Don’t be afraid to ask another creator how they did something. Some will be paranoid jerks always afraid of someone stealing their ideas, but most of us love to share how we do things. I am most easily reached by messaging me at https://opensimworld.com/user/lunalunaria.
MM Please tell us about your grid. What are the main features you would like to share?
LL I just relocated to Mobius Grid from YCFS after the owner decided to retire from hosting grids. The owner of Mobius, Royale Mobian, graciously opened his grid to me and has been absolutely wonderful. Mobius was begun in 2014 for gamers interested in the Sonic universe (Mobius being Sonic’s home planet), but quickly expanded to aficionados of other games. They have multiple regions devoted to all things Mobian, and nearly everyone has a Mobian avatar (I’m working on mine still). It’s open to hypergrid visitors of course and there are some very interesting places to see.
I have a 3x3 Var region there called Lunaria Gloebit Emporium, where I combined the best of my old regions on YCFS. The ground level is home to my main store, but is also a study in light and spirituality, perfect for meditation and exploration. There's a lot to see and do that is unrelated to the store, and some places can only be reached if you are proficient with double click to camera position, such as the large rotating ring with chairs you can sit on and enjoy a scenic ride around the region. I love to just sit and ride! Inside the store lobby and to the far right are additional teleports to wonderful places like the Ceridwen Temple, where a soulful melody wafts through the sacred space; the modern Aeroclub, an event venue floating in the sky with flying cars you can explore the region in; or Camelot up on a higher level, an ongoing build that is a four-region homage to the Arthurian legends.
On a level above the ground, you can now see all my venues and large builds in one place. There are castles, ballrooms, a modern clubhouse with a pool, classical roman builds, Japanese structures, etc. And above that level are two more: the cemetery and a large sci-fi build currently in progress.
MM Where do you get your inspiration from?
LL Literally everywhere, lol. Photos, literature, movies, graphics, architecture, you name it. My main inspiration though is internal, since I’m constantly overflowing with thoughts and ideas of what might be possible. That fountain never stops.
MM What is your favorite theme build?
LL My favorite build is almost always the last one I completed, lol. As of this writing, currently that would either be the Modern Clubhouse with Pool. (I got to channel my Frank Lloyd Wright on that one), or the ground level of the new region I’m on. The terrain there is in the shape of my logo, thanks to the help of grid owner Royale. In regular builds though, I mostly gravitate to a group of themes: Japanese, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, and 1920s, most likely from past life connections. I somehow intrinsically know how those should look and feel, making the process almost effortless.
MM You recently advertised moving everything to Kitely, will you still keep your grid open selling with gloebits?
LL Yes, I will. There’s no replacement for the experience of walking through large builds like the ballrooms or the castles. I constantly find myself strolling through them. Up until this latest outage, Gloebits was always the hands-down choice for currency, and while it still has significant advantages over anything else, I’ve been forced to think of alternatives, like PayPal and Kitely, to minimize these interruptions to customers going forward. So, over the coming weeks, I will add most of my inventory to the Kitely Market to provide patrons an alternative if the region or its payment system goes down. That market has its pros and cons of course: it allows delivery to nearly all Hypergrid-enabled grids as well as closed grids, but payment options are either Kitely credits, which cannot be exchanged for real currency, or PayPal, in which case I don’t see that money for almost two months, since that is PayPal’s dispute window.
MM Do you have ideas about new themes to create?
LL I have a strong pull toward mid-century modern design, steampunk, and sci-fi. Those are starting to become a fun challenge since those are personal loves. Especially sci-fi, as I’m already working on a 3x3 sci-fi platform where I can explore this fully, as well as provide a place to bring in flying spacecraft made by my alt, Lain Iwakura, and scripted by Armenious Horada of Destiny Galaxies grid.
Fantasy also has a significant influence on me, but I haven’t yet really explored this theme in my builds since it tends to be a more organic type of style, like Art Nouveau, but I look forward to diving into it.
MM Please tell us about this year’s OpenSim Fest.
LL This year’s festival is slated to be held during November, and is likely to be our third and last effort by this team, which includes main organizer Leighton Marjoram who also handles the exhibit regions, grid hosting and IT infrastructure by Bill Blight, event hosting by the veteran Oldesoul Eldamar of Fantasy Faire fame in SL, and myself as the merchant organizer. We are attempting to represent as many groups in Opensim as possible in this multi-faceted approach. We took over from Avatarfest three years ago, and after this year we intend to hand off the event to future organizers, if someone steps forward to claim the mantle.
MM If you could change one thing about opensim what would that be?
LL The top item on my wish list is a social media platform just for opensim, done well enough that most would buy into it. But of course, there are other items on my list as well, such as a unified Hypergrid search, and groups that weren’t dependent on individual grids. We can dream, can’t we?
MM What would you like to share that I perhaps forgot to ask?
LL In addition to my work in Opensim, I am also a science fantasy writer, The book I’m working on is called Eos Renascent, set in the far future of a fork of humanity on a far-flung world that is slowly dying. The inhabitants of that world, faced with extinction and the failure of their technology, must somehow advance to a new state of being, or perish with their world. But they are a fractured people, divided into iron age states at war with one another. If only there were someone with the vision to see the way out. Enter Maeia, an oracle-assassin in a secret sisterhood, whose world is suddenly thrown into the middle of a maelstrom when her touch revives a 3000-year-old mummy from a forgotten age. You can read the first fourteen chapters for free on Wattpad.
You can find my Opensim store here:
You can HyperGrid directly to the main Opensim store by placing the following address in your world map:
main.mobiusgrid.us:80:Lunaria Gloebit Emporium
You can me on the Kitely Market here:
Read my book on Wattpad:
Thank you, Luna, for taking the time to share with us about your work. As you can see artists like Luna Lunaria add phenomenal details to opensim. Let’s all show our support!
Mari entered OpenSim in 2015 as a resident of a grid in Canada, called to manage their magazine as an Editor, thereby meeting her future partner Reyn Softly.
Fred Beckhusen's DreamGrid