Fantasy Faire 2013 – An Interview With Khyle Sion

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The DragonSpire


Fantasy Faire 2013 may well be pretty much over, but I’ve still got a few posts on the event to post and I’ll start with an interview with Khyle Sion. Khyle is the person who built The Dragonspire sim and spent a lot of time working during the event, meaning I couldn’t catch up with him! At one point he told me he’d been awake for 36 hours! Khyle also displayed some wares from his store, Refined Wild at Fantasy Faire, naturally in The DragonSpire sim.

CL : How Many Years Have You Been Participating In Fantasy Faire for?

Khyle : This will be my 3rd year participating in the Relay for Life Fantasy Faire; however, this is my first year having built an entire sim for it.

CL : What have you enjoyed most about your participation in Fantasy Faire?

Khyle : I’m a professional artist in real life, as well as in Second Life. Unfortunately, due to illness and circumstances beyond my control, I currently do not have the ability to create many substantial works of art to participate in public shows. I’ve been showing in galleries for a long time — since I was 8 or 9 years old, in fact — up until after college. I deeply miss all of the interaction and hustle and bustle of putting together a show or installing a work of art for people to enjoy.

The Fantasy Faire has allowed me to create new sculptures and installations to be showcased and seen by a large-scale audience while also using the same work to help raise money for cancer. Whether it be a fountain like “Violet Rebirth”, an interactive work that requires audience participation, such as “Paper Boats in a Paper Sea” — or an entire sim, such as “DragonSpire” (which was built in multiple levels, with winding tunnels and secret spaces and even a secret pet to hatch!), I’ve taken great joy in discovering an outlet for me to return to my traditional, fine-art roots. I take the Faire as an opportunity to share something new and exciting with the world — to inspire, and touch the hearts of those who take the time to stop, take a breath, and really look around.

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Spire And Map Layouts

CL : Have you been to any other sims and if so which have you enjoyed the most?

Khyle : I’ve admittedly not had a moment to give much of a glance around the other sims, but to say that I enjoy one over the other would be inaccurate. I’ve really enjoyed all the sims, every year, for different reasons and in different ways. Of all the sims, though — I’ve tried to absorb all that I can in terms of enjoying “The DragonSpire” itself.

Making this sim has been very tumultuous for me. Almost all of it is original content, created specifically for the Faire. It was an incredible amount of work, especially as I had started a brand-new full-time job April 1st — I’d hardly stopped to take a rest since the beginning of the month. When I have taken some time to relax, it’s been to enjoy my accomplishments and the accomplishments of my team-mates who’d helped me set things up on the sim. It’s the first time I’d ever built a sim in Second Life. I know that might sound strange, having been in SL for almost 8 years — but it’s true. 🙂

I’d like to enjoy it while it lasts!


CL : Have you been to any of the events or been involved in the hunt?

Khyle : Like I said, I’ve hardly had a chance to breathe since the beginning of the month, let alone have time to involve myself in events or hunts. I haven’t even had the time to fully respond to my bloggers, or even do the jail-and-bail like I’ve done in previous years. It’s just been that busy.

CL : As The Builder Of The Dragonspire, what sort of challenges have you faced in building the sim?

Khyle : I think a more accurate question would be: “What WASN’T a challenge while building the DragonSpire?”

Most of DragonSpire was not developed in Second Life. Most of it is mesh! A large percentage of the sim was completely developed in Maya, with no in-world reference except a screenshot of the stores positioned on the sim, sketched over with where I wanted to place them, and how I wanted the tunnels to look.

The tunnels and the large roof of the cave were definitely the biggest challenges. I had originally wanted to reduce the terrain and water levels enough for the tunnels to be completely underground. Unfortunately, the terrain and water didn’t go as low as I thought they would. The way Second Life currently renders the water level of surrounding sims in accordance to the water level of the sim you’re currently on made it impossible for me to have the tunnels truly and completely underground — this is why the entrances and exits to the sim are elevated.

The tunnels themselves are completely mesh. They were created all in one piece, and had to be modified so that they could be uploaded and resized to the correct proportions. Texturing them was also a challenge, to try to get the seams to match up as neatly as possible. One of my helpers, Saikatsu Epsilon, actually spent several hours constructing a massive set of collision prims, as the collision for the actual mesh tunnels refused to work correctly.

The large roof of the cave is made of sculpted pieces, as is the walls and outside of the structure. This seemed the best way to do it, as in order to get a mesh to work at that size would’ve taken a lot more time than I had. I really played the roof by ear — making large slabs of stone, and then filling holes as I went. I’d originally wanted it to be mesh, so turning heel and making it sculpted was a last-minute decision I had to make due to time. As it was a last-minute decision, I really didn’t know how I’d put it together and it took a little bit of planning before I could actually form it.

Refined Wild

CL : As someone who has been building Mesh, is Mesh now your preferred building method?

Khyle : Mesh has been my preferred building method long before Mesh ever existed on the grid. 🙂

I originally started in 3D outside of SL doing low-poly meshes, optimized for performance in PC games and handhelds. Mesh is about a billion times easier than doing anything with prims or sculpts, for me — it’s a much better, smoother workflow in general. I celebrated when mesh came to Second Life. Opened a bottle of wine and everything!

Of course, that said — Mesh, in SL, still has many limitations and things I need to work around to get it to work properly with prim counts, rigs and the like. It took me at least a year to fine-tune my workflow specifically for SL.

CL : Would you participate in Fantasy Faire again?

Khyle : Yes. And I would even love to build another sim! Albeit — next time, I’d pick something a little less dynamic, daring and experimental and focus on doing something much more inventive and creative. I certainly won’t make another sim that contains 3 levels again. My poor sleep schedule just can’t take it.

In fact, I’ve already started coming up with ideas! I’ll definitely do it again. If they’ll have me. 🙂

Refined Wild

CL : What advice would you give to anyone who was considering participating in Fantasy Faire?

Khyle : If you’re a merchant: Don’t even consider it. Just do it. You won’t regret it.

If you’re a sim builder: Plan a year in advance.

CL : Any other comments?

Khyle : FUN FACT: The entire file size for all of “The DragonSpire” assets is exactly 1.57 GB.

This sim would not have been possible had it not been for my beloved team of best friends and colleagues.

The last couple weeks of March and all throughout April have been absolutely brutal on me. Not only do I have to contend with a serious chronic illness on a day-to-day basis, I’d been working as a Mad Scientist at a children’s camp for the final two weeks of March and was unexpectedly hired at Electronic Arts under a full-time contract position that started April 1st.

Between hour-long commutes, a sprained toe, misbehaving kids, days spent chin-deep in “MayaShop”, meeting dozens of new people while being trained, being moved to a different department and trained again, signing paperwork, finding time to sleep, having no resources to cook a decent meal, and the occasional bedridden-level migraine, I have had the opportunity to work with the most cooperative and manageable team I could ever ask for:

Saikatsu Epsilon – 3D Modelling Assistance, UV Mapping Assistance, Sim Setup (You pulled through. You did it, and you did -so much-! You’ve proved to yourself that you can do anything, and you can take the praise and admiration that goes with it. You’re my best friend, Drei. Thank you!)

Elysium Hynes- Blogger, Documentation, Sim Setup

Astrea – Emotional Support, Sim Setup

Viodelic – Scripting Master

Methias Kira – Motion Artist

I also want to thank Elizabeth Tinsley and Zander Greene, who have been absolutely and completely supportive throughout this elaborate venture. I apologize for any heart attacks and/or strokes and/or emotional breakdowns that occurred due to my mischief. 🙂

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The DragonSpire Gang

From left to right; Viodelic, Elysium Hynes, Saikatsu Epsilon, Khyle Sion, Astrea, Methias Kira.

Refined Wild Main Store SLURL:

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