One of the most acclaimed and creative spots in Second Life is the Nemo trilogy
, consisting of three distinct virtual world locations inspired by the three natural elements of water, earth and air. Designed by Sextan Shepherd
, this impressive steampunk-themed creation takes inspiration from the works of author Jules Verne and even inventor Nikola Tesla. The Destination Guide's Brett Linden recently toured the Nemo trilogy with creator Shepherd, who shared his thoughts about this ambitious project.
Watch the video below to view the tour and hear the interview. There's also full text of the Q&A below.
DG: Your trilogy of NEMO areas has been among the most acclaimed and popular spots in SL. What inspired you to undertake this ambitious project?
SS: I have always liked the steampunk style in books with Jules Verne that I read when I was a child, and with movies such as "Steamboy"
or "The Illusionist."
So, when I started to build in SL I built steampunk stuff naturally. Concerning Nemo, it all started with the mechanical manta ray. I built it just for fun, then I thought it was cool so I built the shrimp and the horseshoe crab. Once the creatures were built, I decided to build a room to put them in, and then a tunnel, an entrance and then yet another room. Nemo 1 was born!
For the rest of the sim, each build inspired another one...and then another one. I don't plan anything. I just build with instinct. Once a build is done, I don't know what I will make next until another idea comes. I am lucky...I have a lot of ideas!
DG: Jules Verne-inspired fashions and steampunk imagery seems to be particularly popular in Second Life. Why do you think that this genre has caught the interest of SL residents?
SS: My definition of the steampunk style is "a romantic kind of old timer science-fiction" and I think that it's what people like: the romantic side with that old-fashioned architecture -- the mystery of science and the imaginary part of science fiction.
DG: In creating NEMO, did you work alone? Or, were there other developers and designers that helped out?
SS: I work alone as much as I can. I build and make all the textures myself but when I need a very specific item, such as a 45° gear wheel or a specific prim movement, I call on my friends who are talented sculptors and script writers. Morpheus Merimann has drawn some specifics sculpties for me, two gears, a column and a boat wheel. You can't miss those beautiful sculpts. I use them everywhere!
Christy Mansbridge, bestmomo Lagan, Lancelot Joubert, Tigerfly Wardark and Elenia Boucher has developed some specific and complex scripts for me and they were always by my side to bring me advice and support.
DG: What other designers and developers have inspired you in SL?
SS: To be honest, I spend all my time building and I rarely "go out," but I remember that I had a real shock when I saw Grey Kurka's work and AM Radio's artistic projects.
DG: The level of detail within each of the NEMO areas is astounding! How long did it take you to construct each section?
SS: I have spent about 40 hours building each section, so it's about 120 hours for the whole SIM. I have a day job and a family, so I can rarely spend more than two or three hours a day on SL. I have learn to work fast, so half of the time involved in the building process was spent on Photoshop.
DG: Did you hide any secrets or obscure details that might be missed by casual explorers?
SS: Well, there are a few items hidden, some high-quality freebies, but you must have the mind of an explorer to find them. But this question just gave me the idea of building a secret laboratory hidden somewhere in Nemo!
DG: What was the most challenging part of the building the trilogy?
SS: The most challenging part? Well...when I finished Nemo 1, I thought that I had reached my building and texture skills limits. Because of the success of Nemo 1, the challenge for me was to find the courage to start building Nemo 2, but I also had the feeling that I didn't have the right to make an error or to build something not as good as Nemo 1 was.
DG: The third installment of the NEMO trilogy only recently debuted in SL in mid-August. Was that design informed by any learnings from the previous two builds?
SS: Of course. The learning process is something that never stops. Each previous building showed me the errors that I must avoid to progress. There is always something to improve in a new build compared to a previous one. For example, I have improved the number of prims involved and the glass textures.
DG: Many people have been commenting, in particular, on the "reflection" effect found in Alnitak's House of Mirrors. Can you shed any light on how that came about?
SS: I will tell you my secret.. I didn't know it was impossible to make a mirror, so I just did it! The idea came while I was searching and working on some glass effects and textures. The idea was so simple, was right in front of my face! So, I tried it.. and wow! It was working! I was the first person surprised by the result.
DG: What's next for you and SXS Design in SL?
SS: I am gonna leave the megaprims and big structures for awhile to focus on something smaller..much smaller! I will launch a Steampunk Jewelery Collection in a few weeks, so for now I will just explore the world of nanoprims.
Looking for more cool places to explore? Check out our Destination Guide or submit your own!