Miriel Enfield is closing up sim and shop, which fills me with great sadness.
It is, unfortunately, a very understandable decision- sim ownership is ridiculously expensive, plus there's all the time and energy on top of it eaten up when someone decides to run a business in SL- when it comes to creating products for this brave new world of ours, the time creating a single item can run into hours, days, weeks, months even- as the limitations of the system are tested and sacrifices are made in what you _want_ it to be, to simply get to what it _can_ be (between the very imperfect avatar mesh, the limited resolution on images and all the tradeoffs you have to make when texturing anything in detail versus lag, all the various limitations on sculpts...never mind getting into the actual failed uploads and all the time spent on the tedium once things are in world because the system is very clunky, and honestly, illdesigned for ease of use in such matters). And of course, then you have the capricious nature of the customer, will they like this release? Is this all really worth it? It isn't just "if you build it, they will come", there's the constant feeding and watering required- constantly reminding people you exist with new releases, fashion shows, advertisements, or what have you. Even if you can't dedicate the time of a full time job to it, and it certainly doesn't pay enough for one in the majority of cases (translate your latest purchase from Lindens into your RL currency sometime, and then think about all the time and effort that went into that thing that cost you less than a US dollar- and what insane bulk of people buying the products that has to translate into to actually come close to a living wage, or even simply minimum wage for the time spent creating it- and that doesn't count all the money taken out in taxes since you have to slice it all out of _your_ share, the things that an employer would take off and you'd never even see), running a business in SL is a full time job. We aren't all trust fund babies, or housewives who have the free time because hubby is off earning the bacon- in fact, I daresay, most of us aren't that, or independently wealthy in any way. While many do it as a hobby, it's after you've come home from a long hard day at work (or school, as the case often is with the younger creators), and most who actually do do it full time aren't exactly living in the lap of luxury.
I knew the possibility existed for months, that Miriel would make this choice- last year she posted in her public journal about giving it 6 more months, seeing if it could really get to where it could pay for itself and enough extra to be worth it. And, after all, RL trumps SL. Even being somewhat prepared in the back of my mind though, doesn't make it any better. Miriel is one of those designers who is more than "just" a designer, they're an institution. She's been around quite a long time- one of the first, if not _the_ first, things I ever bought for myself were her eyes, and I wear them to this day. Without the Jewelry Expedition she ran (and ran amazingly well and lag free, thankless task that it was with all the headaches the participating designers made for her), I probably never would have opened up shop. It gave me the boost of confidence that maybe, just maybe, actually finishing things and putting them out where people could see them and also get them, might be worth it, instead of just making things for myself. For all that she is one of the largest influences on my SLife, one of the integral steps that led to me getting where I am now, I've never met her.
I don't believe I have the words to explain how over the moon I am about her eyes- they are, simply, to me, the perfect eyes. Eyes are something so small, and basic, and integral, that I think we do not think about them often- mine only change for particular reasons, and I never think to credit them, because they simply _are_, that, forever. They don't include the whites of the eyes, so you can also custom tint ones that are close, but not exactly what you want (I've tinted the absinthe a touch more green for Allegory's every day eyes- I love the luminosity, but I wanted a touch more unnatural vibrance to her eyes, mostly because of what I'd gotten used to with system eyes). Upon telling a friend Miriel was closing, she remarked "but where will I get eyes for all of my alts now?" (You can, at least, stock up on transfer eyes, but still, you don't know that you will get everything you need!) Her jewelry is also beautiful, full of flowing lines and comes in a vast assortment of gems and metals. She also has the most ingenious scripted vendors, that she created herself, which allow you to choose your options, including transfer or copy, on everything she sells. On top of that, she sells shapes, and has two really lovely hairstyles (that are also quite cheap, especially considering how well made they are).
Her sim is also a delight- it's an island next to Nouveau, and it's masterfully crafted, from all aspects. I think it is, hands down, the best terrain textures, both the textures themselves and the way they bleed into each other, I've ever seen- especially with the way they are continued in the trees (which is most obvious to me, as I run with terrain detail set low most of the time, so I can actually, you know, move- however with it set as it should be, with real detail, they blend together amazingly seamlessly). It has a magnificent rocky coast, a beach with those big pebbles instead of soft sand that hurt your feet to walk on barefoot, that leads into gorgeous forest above. The trees are amazingly constructed, some of the best in SL- and yet, they aren't something she bought at a store specializing in landscaping, or even for sale, she built them all for herself (and never "finished" them enough to release to the public). They've got shadows cast on the fallen leaves of the forest floor, and some have huge mushrooms growing on the sides of them, and there are marvelous scripted sunbeams, that only light up at certain times of day, scattered in amongst them- again, created by Miriel for her own use. The cliffs, as well, were created by Miriel and never sold to the public, and they are magnificent- as well as magnificently worked into the landscape, with all the additional collision required by sculpts functioning seemingly effortlessly (let me tell you...there's nothing effortless about that). They're wild and free and I can feel the cold wind whipping at me as I stand on the edge and peer down to the ocean crashing below.
The sim is also designed with a number of "features"- little details here and there that tell the history of the island. It's an old place, with heavy stone, and broken remains of past human habitation. The buildings, also, both were made by Miriel for her own use, and are, well, _too_ good for SL. They look like they belong in another game, one with an actual paid staff, with the limited objects and textures one can define when one can control all aspects, to cut down on the strain it causes the viewer's computer- and yet, her sim isn't laggy for me (and, as someone who can stand still and crash twice in 5 minutes...that's a feat). They have depth, and beauty, and look more _real_. And you're looking at pictures here that lack any sort of atmospheric shaders- the only advantage I get with Windlight is the ability to control my lighting better (look at how crappy the system water is? Yeah). All these pictures have been unmolested aside from resizing and occasional cropping.
There is a treasure hunt as well, but of a bit different sort- it's all based around a story line. In the building that houses her goods for sale, there is a poster about the Golden Cage. Buy that, and look in your inventory for the folder. Read the notecard, for a brief history of the island, and a bit of a journal page from one of the previous inhabitants, that tells you a story, and a hint to the next place to look. Follow the clues, and you're taken on a tour of the features of the island, each "point of interest" holds a prize (a piece of jewelry sold in the store, in one colour combination), and another clue, until you reach the last. It isn't a very _easy_ hunt- you will have to use your brain to find the right spot to start looking, and then you'll have to use a bit of patience and camming skills to find the box itself- they're small, and while they are in plain sight if you get the right angle, you have to get that right angle, as they are hidden away in nooks and crannies (I found the first one the hardest- I was looking in exactly the right place, but there were so many half hidden areas _in_ the right place!) I ran through it again (with the cheating aid of memory), so I could save the notecards with the story to look fondly over later, having thrown them away the first time in an inventory purge.
The lesson here, aside from the fact that soon, our world will be a little bit smaller and darker, having lost one more piece of beauty (which, sadly, isn't the first, nor will it be the last, time, between the fact that sims cost money so you have to support them somehow; and are user created and so can never be _expected_ to still be there, or be the same; as well as that whole openspace fiasco that led to so many beautiful sims blipping out of existence not long ago), is that you can't take creators for granted. There is nothing to say they will always be there, even the long established designers, without whom you can't imagine SL (obviously, ~silentsparrow~ and the Tableau crew are high on my list of those! But then, so are so many like Lassitude and Ennui, and Fleur, and Nomine, and far too many to list and I would forget some and kick myself later for the exclusion).
Regardless of whether you are interested in buying anything she sells, I strongly recommend you run quickly to her sim, to look around before it's all gone, because it in itself is a thing of beauty not to be missed. (And while you're there, make sure to look around and pick up anything that you can't live without, since it won't be around long!)