Second Life® is a virtual reality platform. I logged in there for the first time on September 16, 2004. At the time, it was a far cry from what it is now. Everything “in world” (as we say) was built using basic building blocks called primitives.
Everywhere I went, people were talking about these “prims.” Everything was made from prims, they told me. This one or that one was a “prim hog” and used more than their share of prims when they made things. People talked about cutting prims, and skewing prims, and texturing prims. But no one would tell me where they got the prims in the first place. When I asked, they just said, “You just use a prim!” I was far too shy back then to explain I had no idea how to do that. But someone finally told me to visit the Ivory Tower of Primitives, and gave me a landmark.
I teleported to the nearest hub, and then flew to the Ivory Tower. (That’s how we got around in those days.) I thought it was going to be a place that I could find or buy some of these mysterious prims to use; a sort of giant collection of prims.
It turned out to be a giant collection of knowledge. A towering, intricate build filled with a self-paced tutorial about how to make and use prims. A self-guided tour into the world of building in SL™.
I learned how to make a prim out of thin air, by just opening the Build menu and clicking on the ground. I learned how to cut a basic cube to make a chair. I learned about hollowing prims, and twisting them, and skewing them, and all kinds of tricks you could play with (and to some extent on) them.
It was that building that led me to stay in Second Life.
The person behind the Ivory Tower, the person who taught building skills to me, and to most of the other residents of SL in those days, and who continues to teach building with prims through the Ivory Tower, was Lumiere Noir.
Lumi was a remarkable man.
It wasn’t long before a mutual friend introduced us, and I learned far more from him than the building tricks at the Ivory Tower. He taught me about SL light, and SL physics. He taught me how to crash a sim by making a double helix constructed from tori into a physical object. He taught me the advantages of building on the ground, instead of in the sky. He showed me how quiet and peaceful it was under the SL water. He taught me so very, very much.
His avatar was a spy from Mad Magazine’s Spy VS Spy, and we played with submarines, and airships, and other odd and unusual vehicles of his own invention. We laughed, and joked, and had a world of fun.
When I asked him about adding texturing lessons to the Ivory Tower, he encouraged me to build it myself, on my own land, so I’d get the traffic and donations. Without him, the Texturing Tutorial would never have existed.
In those early days, the torus, tube, and so on were new, and most people were just starting to experiment with building using them. Lumi had a group called “Edifice Rex.” (Just the name really tells you all you need to know about Lumi, really.) He held building competitions regularly. He would assign a particular type of prim – the Tube, for instance – and everyone would build something using only that primitive. I was too timid to actually enter anything I had built back then, but I loved seeing what other people did.
The building competitions went on for years, and were a source of delight for many of us.
In French, lumière means “light”. I always thought his name was very apt. He did, indeed, bring light everywhere he went. He was endlessly generous with his time, his talent, his knowledge, his humor, his encouragement – his life.
He was an inspiration.
I was proud to call him my friend.
On Monday night, at the age of 53, he died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack. His name in First Life was Vince Frost.
He will be very greatly missed.
The Ivory Tower, which has been on Linden land for many years now, will continue to stand; a monument to a wonderful man who shaped Second Life in so many ways.
Goodbye, Lumi, my friend. I’ll miss you more than I can say.