Suite Intelligence by KT Syakumi

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If you’re not learning and doing different things, SL can get stale, even boring. Fortunately there’s always something to learn. There’s a time to go to a club and muck around, chatting and dancing. But if thats ALL you do in SL, I think you’d soon get bored. Well, I would. I get distracted easy becau…..oooh shiney! That over there looks good. I’ma going to do that next! So I just do stuff, flitting from one to the other.

When I saw a 2006 magazine article about Second Life,® it looked cool. I’m a bit of a tech geek so I had a look. I stayed on the help island for two weeks because I thought that was all there was!

Then I fell into having a business. Back then, Linden Lab had the first land program where you could buy a 512m2 plot for $512L. I bought one and met my neighbor, Lilyneeanne. We bounced one off the other. Eventually we became business partners.

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Influenced by my real life as a photographer, we started off by making a slideshow frame: Intelliart. I still sell it. Then we made an art gallery to support it. So we sold the art in frames and the frames separately. We got artists in to exhibit in the frames— back in ‘06 and ’07, the art world was less developed than now. Then we made an adboard system, which was the slideshow frame with extra features. At the time, there were only two adboard systems in SL, and eventually ours was in maybe 75% of the clubs and other ‘service’ places in SL. It still sells well.

The books came down the line when I needed something to display photos. I couldn’t find a book to present them, so we created Intellibook, which we improved over the years. Lily did most of the initial scripting, I did the development, testing, marketing etc.

Lily and I kept adding stuff. The books evolved, and we found a niche. The books are definitely the most successful product. There are other products around, but I say, and it’s backed up buy people who have used them, that the Intelli system is still the best. Also, we bought out a competitor when he decided to leave SL. We still have a line to him. So I support Thinc as well as Intelli. Lily left a few years ago, and now it’s just me. For a while, I stopped making new Intelli stuff.

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Intellibooks are a big hit with magazine publishers and photographers. They’re less popular with writers because to bring a book into SL that mainly text would cost mega amounts. Plus the work involved in converting words into to images for SL is not their expertise. Intellibooks works best for visual stuff.

Intelli is now constant—at a maintenance level. I support and sell the products, but there’s only a certain level of market you can get for a product like this in SL. If someone wants a book, they will seek you out, and get it. If they don’t want one, there’s nothing you can do to sell them one. It’s not like with clothes where you release every week, and people buy, even if it’s similar to what they bought from someone else. If you don’t release regularly, you die. Whereas with Intelli, there’s nothing to release on a regular basis. It’s a different business model: you have your product, you maintain it, and support the customers, rather than release, release, release. For example, I make regular money on selling blanks for the books and magazines. Yet, the market for ‘people who wear clothes’ is much bigger than the market for ‘people that want to make books.’ People at some point need clothes and most buy more than once. But say, only 10% of people in SL would ever buy to make a book.

The market is stable between new people wishing to make books, and people who leave SL, or stop making books. If SL would continually grow, there would be a continually increasing market. If your whole base is SL, whatever your business, you can’t sell to more people than are in SL (ignoring other grids for now). Intelli found and grabbed a niche it. And while it’s a small niche, it’s customers are dedicated and loyal. The business now is at a level that allows me to work on other things.

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Now on top of Intelli, I love to build with mesh, using my Photoshop skills. This bridge I stand on waits to be textured. I own this sim which is my playground, so there’s stuff all over. Building in SL is what I do in the evenings. I don’t watch TV. Fortunately, there’s rarely anything on TV worth watching.

I just finished this boat shed. I hate the shabby chic look that is popular in SL. I go for old grungy. I’m aiming to have the sim be 100% made by me and also have everything for sale. I’m a long way off from that, mind you. Also, I have an OS sim that I rent out, and I have one tenant here. I would love to take on one or two more that want to have this look. So dear readers, if you are looking… .

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Introverted people need to be happy inside their own heads. In my head, there are things waiting to escape. And they can escape into SL. Building is a mostly solitary occupation and I like that. But introverts don’t necessarily hate people. In fact, I’m less introverted in SL than in real life, which is a confidence booster. SL helps me see that.

SL can be quite intrusive, especially if you don’t live in America. I am in New Zealand—almost the opposite time zone to SL! There are people in SL that want stuff NOW. And because I’m not around a lot during the US day, I occasionally get an upset IM from someone who demands that I be there. Fortunately, I’m fairly flexible in real life, and can often pop on.

This may sound weird, but I don’t see SL in terms of challenges— there is stuff I can do and stuff I can’t do. If I want to learn the stuff I can’t do, then there are facilities in SL to do so.

It was when I managed the SL 9th Birthday Celebration that I saw mesh emerge. Then I decided to learn it. But I didn’t say ‘I’m going to conquer the mesh challenge.’ I just said ‘I’m going to learn mesh—something else I can do to keep SL interesting.’ A year later I’m building mesh nuclear reactor towers with space rockets inside!

This boat shed is the best work I’ve done yet—maybe not what others think. For me it is the best I’ve done from start to finish. A year ago, I couldn’t even contemplate making something like it, something that could not only be in SL, but could also conceivably be in a video game.

If you build in SL, you may as well make it for sale—it costs nothing. But to sell them is not why I make them. Right now, I make them so I can have a kick-ass sim. Though I’d love for them to sell, I’ll be happy to sell a few. That’s what we said about the adboard way back at the start: “it would be nice to sell ten.” Then, a year later, they were in almost every club! But I’m not out to conquer SL in mesh builds.

My journey consists of looking at things, finding a problem, making a solution, finding something else, moving to the next thing. I’m forever grateful to Lily and Intelli for what they gave me in SL and real life, but I’m equally as excited about the new stuff I can do.

Intelli is the foundation of my SL and lets me do these other things. Intelli won’t disappear just because I can now build sims of mesh. I love doing it all.

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If new in SL, don’t come in thinking you’re going to set up a business and make money. SL doesn’t work like that. It certainly won’t work with a real life marketing strategy. But it’s no different than real life in needing time to grow. No creator I know just came in, set up a store and starting taking money out.

Come into SL, get to know it, how it works. Hang out, explore—look for where you fit—start making the stuff you want to make, or do the things you want to do. Thousands of people never get past the 3D chat room part of SL, which is sad because there’s so much more to do.

Another part of my SL is mentoring and helping people. I used to be an SL mentor. That program doesn’t exist now, but I still like to help those that want to learn. I had help when I didn’t know anything. So I help others when I can—kinda paying it forward. I try to answer any question, except ones about sex.

Looking after those that buy my stuff, most need a bit of help when starting, especially with some of the advanced Magazine Factory features. Some of those features scare even me, and I made it! Constructing the basic book is easy though. The instructions are very literal—New Zealanders are very literal people.

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I’ve done Intelli, owned a gallery, managed a club, exhibited my real life photos, coordinated events, built contracts, designed with mesh etc. etc. I’ve stuck my toe in many waters in SL. Sometimes I dived in, others the water was too cold. But I looked around, and found where I fit SL and where SL fit me, and as a result of all that, I know a lot more about how SL ticks than a lot of people.

The biggest mistake artists and publishers make when starting creative businesses is not to ask: Why start them? If you think you’ll buy a book, load it with your art, and it will sell all over SL, it won’t. It doesn’t matter how good the book is. Just like real life, you have to do the hard yards. Having a great product means little. I did that with my photographs. I had a few exhibits, got into some galleries, sold a few. But I wasn’t into it enough to keep releasing, releasing, releasing. So now I just have a gallery to house my photos that no one sees.

The books are not really about being creative; they are about giving others the tools to be creative themselves. People sometimes ask what my books look like. Uum….. however YOU make them. People often come in and show me one and say “I want to buy the system that made this.” But I also try to find out what their needs are. I’d love to sell everyone the most expensive, but they don’t always need it, so I sell what they need. They can advance in stages. It’s an evolution for them too. —KT Syakumi, owner, IntelliGroup

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