Friday, May 22, 2009

Goodbye Miriel

miriel grave

Miriel Enfield is closing up sim and shop, which fills me with great sadness.

miriel ice queen

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.

miriel island

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.

miriel archaeology

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).

miriel night beach

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.

miriel cliffs

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.

miriel observatory

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.

miriel garden

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).

miriel roses

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!)

miriel stairs


Achariya Rezak said...

I fear that Lassitude & Ennui will someday follow, and that will be a crying shame too.

Candy Cerveau said...

You said what I feel far more eloquently than I ever could. Miriel was the one who inspired me to start designing jewelry - after seeing her work, I realized that beautiful elegant jewelry could actually exist and I wanted to try to make some of my own. I find her inspiring in so many ways, and though I'm saddened by her departure I do hope that she finds something that brings her joy, whether that is in SL or not.

Jhuzen Ketsugo said...

Sweet Allegory,

Your words are eloquent, your feelings shared by many of us who literally "see" SL through Miriel's eyes. I am sad beyond words, but your 'eulogy' of sorts is poetic and precious. The pictures are so lovely, I have the same windlight issues, so they look the same to my own eyes, and I will be looking back to this post when I am stuck for inspiration. Thank-you for capturing the feelings of so many in a way very few could.

~ Ketsy

Roslin said...

Allegory, what a lovely tribute to make to Miriel, so eloquently put. It breaks my heart that Miriel has decided to close her shop and sim. She was never just a content creator to me, she has always been an artist. Being her sim mate and friend has always inspired and motivated both me and my partner. Miriel is someone whose amazingly high standards were both the reason for amazing quality, but also her commercial downfall. If she were less of a perfectionist, she would have been more prolific and that would have saved her, I'm sure. It makes me sad to see that over the years, SL has been more and more of a reflection all that is banal and bland in RL, making carbon copies of RL and less about creating original work that's fresh and different. My only hope is that this serves as a wake up call to residents to remember how important it is to support the smaller artists of sl. When you see something well executed, even if it's not something you will buy yourself, tell people about it. Word of mouth is still the best way to be made known in sl.

Allegory Malaprop said...

Ach- I fear you're right. I have hoped that she will continue what little in world presence she has, keeping SL warm for her if she ever wants to return, but she has, at least currently, moved on to other things. She's one of the people who I do think could simply pick up where she left off and still create at the top of the game, whatever new innovations have been made in SL- while many are still struggling with sculpts, she's shown that she's mastered modelling and texturing, and even if we get mesh support, she's got the skills to translate into that with no problem.

Candy- The trickle down effect is amazing, isn't it? The contributions made to the fabric of the world and the people in it, the legacy she will leave in all of the people that she inspired and helped along the way. Even when she disappears entirely, she'll never really be gone.

Ketsy- We'll all grieve together, but it's better to have experienced the wonder and be able to take our memories of it with us, to keep the inspiration and beauty close to our hearts, than to never have experienced it at all.

Roslin- It's true, that both her strength and her failing, is that she's an artist. It's why she has had such an impact and created such amazing things, but it's also why she never saw the "commercial" success. The safe route always does better financially, as well as the fact that things that, quite simply, are the best in SL, still weren't finished and ready for public consumption in her eyes. Aside from all the magnificent creations on the island to create the place, her journal is littered with glimpses of half finished items that far surpassed much of what is obtainable in SL, and yet were never put up for sale because she wasn't happy with them. Many of the things she did create were far in advance of her time- for instance the Gibson Girl hair, which isn't at all new, is on the same level as all the new "oh my god that's amazing" hair that's come out with the more advanced texturing and sculpting that has become more prevalent just in the last few months- and yet, she'd done the same thing quite some time ago. While commercial success (and we do all need to eat) follows when the really good creators take the easy way out (faster and blander), we lose out on the beauty they could have created instead, and our lives are a little bit less rich because of it.

Peter Stindberg said...

See my tribute here: and here

skat said...

Beautiful post! Unfortunately for me, I missed the closing of Miriel's shop and island due to some real life things I was going through at the time. Had I known she was closing, I'd have dumped as much $ into SL as I could and bought every last eye in her shop. I was in the process of buying them all. Hers ARE the only eyes I will ever wear and were the only eyes I ever recommended to newbies. I have "made over" several newbies over the last year or so and every single one of them received a pair of Miriel's eyes from my inventory. I bought them all in transfer versions for just that purpose. What a sad thing that they'll no longer be available:(

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