A horse is associated with a number of symbols, such as independence, confidence, freedom, endurance, courage and competition. Characteristics that are also important for content creators. What happens if content creation meets horses? A perfect example for that is Mira (monstaar.mama) who told us her fascinating story how she became an original content creator in the equestrian community of Second Life and a part of the Teegle Dev Team where she shares her talent and skills as a Mesh and Animation artist.
Let’s start with the early beginnings! What brought you to Second Life?
My sister, Cordyceps Alpha. She had been in SL for years and had been recommending it to me that entire time. I am actually not really sure what kept me away for so long. I was a cake decorator at the time, with illustration as a side job. So I suppose I just kept myself so busy that listening to my sister was just something I put off doing. Even if I knew she was usually right, haha! She finally got my attention in 2014 when she started talking about a roleplay region that she knew I’d be interested in. She also walked me through the set up process and showed me the ropes, the best places to go, and paid for my first purchases. She really, really wanted me to join. I don’t think she knew what I would end up doing here. But I certainly have her to thank for my ending up where I am today!
What drew you to the Teegle community?
I actually had looked up Second Life several times. My sister, in one of her previous attempts to get me to join, was like “Manda there are Hoooorses” and this of course piqued my interest. I’ve been obsessed with horses since pretty much birth. Every now and then, I would check the second life marketplace to look at the newest horses. Even back then, I would fantasize about making things. But really just the idea of being around a bunch of like minded people was a tantalizing thought, even if I wouldn’t end up actually joining until years later.
Shortly after I joined Second Life, though, it wasn’t long before I was learning that there were in fact multiple horse regions, each with their own communities. Ladies Pleasure, Water Horse, Indiana Wilds, Blackhawk Heights, Mountain Cove and so much more. I still remember vividly my first visit to the region Breeder’s Choice which would eventually become Teegle. I remember being in my dorky old roleplay avatar walking around the region staring at all the beautiful horse avatars gathered in the region’s sandbox. The Sandbox is often a social gathering spot in many communities, and the equestrian community was no exception! It wouldn’t be long before I saved up enough from my meager paychecks to buy the Breeder’s Choice Avatar.
Interestingly, because I love unicorns almost as much as I love horses, the first “outfit” I created on my new spiffy horse avatar was a big fluffy unicorn. While standing around the sandbox one day, I happened to cam upon, *gasp*, another unicorn! But this one was all tricked out and modded and awesome! So naturally I go up to talk to them. That unicorn was Niel Darkheart, owner of Heraldic, Mythril’s sister store. And we’ve been best friends ever since! So as you can probably guess I enmeshed myself within the Breeder’s Choice community rather fast. Even meeting Teager a few times, though our relationship wouldn’t really start to grow until much later! I stayed as it blossomed into the Teegle community when Teager released the Teegle Horse Avatar, which is the modern horse avatar you will most often see around today.
So like for so many others, your first steps to create in Second Life started with modifying! How and when did it happen that you started to create your own original content?
I’ve always liked to mod horses into stuff. Far before I came to SL, when I was a kid, I even made horses in this game called Petz4! So the precedent I suppose was well established before I even made my way onto this platform!
I started Second Life in 2014. By the time I joined the horse community a few months later I was completely addicted to Second Life, to exploring, to buying things, renting land and making avatars. There was so much to do, so much variety and it was just absolutely consuming. There were already thoughts in my brain about doing content creation inside Second Life, but back then those thoughts only concerned covering my shopping addiction so I didn’t have to pull from my real life funds. It was Niel who first brought up animating, and nudged me to also do it as he learned. Basically we would start our journey as creators together. That is how ~Mythril~, my store, first came to be. Niel was definitely better and more thorough in his education than I was at the start. That all changed when my real life situation took a turn.
By the end of 2015, my real life job as a cake decorator had become so overwhelming and stressful that it began to overtake everything else in my life and I knew it had to stop. I left, knowing I was in a desperate situation as I did not have another job lined up. In a move I regret to this day, I pulled out what I had saved through the years and lived on it for most of 2016 while I ‘mentally recuperated’. It was a rough time! By the time my funds were starting to run out, however, Teager had suddenly released her brand spankin’ new avatar into Beta to iron out the last bugs! There was a sudden resurgence in the horse community! Faces new and old showing up to flood our old hangout sandbox! It was released officially on December 10th, 2016. I bit the bullet and bought the Teegle Horse Avatar even though I technically couldn’t afford it. I immediately asked Teager for the dev kit and started making animations right away. It pretty much snowballed from there.
I’ll never forget the first time I logged on to Second Life, not long after, to see a hefty chunk of L$ just sitting on my account. Money that I had not added myself. That I had made just through selling my own creations. My whole outlook changed, and I knew then that I would never be able to go back to the way things used to be. It was truly a huge turning point for me.
Every creator has their one project which they will always remember and be proud of. What is your favorite creation that you have ever made, and why?
Early in my youth, when I was part of the Petz community, someone posted a video of a “dancing horse”. I knew very little about dressage at that point but I clicked on the video and was greeted by the sight of the now world famous performance of Blue Hors Matine dancing to pop music and seeming to enjoy herself immensely. I must have watched that video a hundred times. It was important for someone like me who always stared obsessively at how horses move. Little did I know I would literally be committing all that to memory for projects I would take on later in life.
The Dressage system started as just an animation commission that grew as my experience did. Soon I was looking for someone to script a riding system (there are not many scripters with the exact set of skills required to work in equestrian Second Life, turns out) and eventually it led to my first experiences working with Teager. She had laid out her ideas for a dressage system that would allow riders to do really detailed routines, and handed the reins of that project for me to finish. Thus I began working on it with Tapple, with her giving advice, guidance and important critique along the way.
It took years of me dragging my feet, making and remaking animations. Stopping and starting and finally just hauling butt to finish. And even since it has been an ongoing project but I have to say, releasing it was one of my proudest moments. It has since sold thousands of copies and become a mainstay within the equestrian community on Second Life for roleplay, riding lessons, competitions and performances. It was even featured on Polygon!
You became a professional with your own store ~Mythril~ Animations but your journey didn’t end there. How did you come to be a part of the Teegle Dev Team?
Over the years, Teager and I developed a friendship. In particular with the Dressage system, she was very honest with me about my animations and what I could do to improve, and I was very grateful for that information. I’ve learned a lot from her over the years. And I really think it just grew naturally. When she needed help with bits and pieces of the Teeglepets, always small things, I would chip in to help. When she needed help with the staff, I stepped up as a CSR. When she needed even more staff, I was promoted to General Manager, though by this time, I was starting to take on more jobs for Teager as well. I never really asked her for things, which is interesting. And I think it is also a testament to our friendship? I was always content just to help. And she’s been so generous with me as a result.
One day, she just sat me down and asked if I wanted to take over breed creation. It caught me really off guard. I cried a lot. Thanked her for trusting me so much, and from there just started. I think we can both say it’s worked out pretty well. We’ll be releasing our 10th breed together next month!
It’s a delight to see how excited you are about creating content! Hands down (or should it be hooves down?): What is your favorite thing about creating for Second Life?
The freedom to be as detailed and immersive as I like with the things I create. The knowledge that the things I create bring real enjoyment, fun and comfort for the people who purchase and use them. Second Life is a unique place. It has a lot of caveats so both joining and learning to become a creator can be challenging at times. But I suppose in that way it’s a form of job security? Because once you do learn, that knowledge becomes an asset people will come to you for.
Second Life has enabled its creators to make experiences that other games often cannot explore fully, or even at all. That is something that has especially benefited us in the equestrian community, as it’s no secret among horse lovers on the internet that the game selection for us is sub par. I like to think that we at Teegle are on to something when it comes to crafting a really great ‘horse game’ experience.
Creating on such a high level requires a lot of commitment, and time. In what ways has your life changed since you became a full time creator?
Oh my God, where do I begin?
Second Life has completely transformed my life. I’m not one of those cases where it just replaces my real life. Second Life supplements my real life. It has enabled a standard of living for me and my family that I never had before. I am so thankful. For the creative outlet. For the constant validation and feedback from our community. For the other creators I get to work with daily. For Teager, oh my God, definitely for Teager. She took me under her wing, gave me direction where before I really had none, and has just been an endless source of positive reinforcement to better myself as a creator and a person. Second Life enabled me to meet her and Niel, two of my closest and dearest friends, and many others I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’m not really a religious person. But sometimes I tear up and feel like this place was made for me. I couldn’t be happier.
There is still so much that could be created, and everyone has their own idea of what is still missing. Is there anything in particular that you’d like to bring to Second Life sometime in the future?
Well because I very much hope to continue working for Teegle for years to come, my list of horse products is absolutely endless. More interactive objects are pretty much at the top of that list. Which would include things like toys, different feeders, new poses, behaviors and interactions between horse and owner and horse and horse. This is followed by more mane and tail styles when I have a bit of a breather between major releases. More creator tutorials for our newer creators entering the market is high on that list, too. But my time and energy has just been limited.
On top of that? I’d love it if Teegle eventually even started adding new pet types to its line! I would love to broaden my skills as an animator on different animals. And imagine, a whole menagerie of animals that not only have their own interactive items to make them seem that much more alive but could also interact with each other? And you can fully customize them with skins and accessories from an awesome third party market? Totally cool! I really really want that.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! Do you have any advice for other creators who are just getting started?
Pick a specialty. That is my number one bit of advice. Too many people I hear starting out tell me, they want to do X and Y and learn to Animate and Mesh together and that is just not how it works. There are a lot of skills you need to become a fully rounded content creator in Second Life. The great news about learning how to make stuff within Second Life is that you can potentially get paid for all that hard work!
My second bit of advice is to join a community. Cata of Aleutia runs an awesome discord called Creators Supporting Creators that I pretty much consider a must for people getting started because it condenses a lot of resources for creators into one place. The Teegle Discord is also a great place, even if you’re not into horses, because we also actively answer questions about the creation process and can assist with any hiccups you may run into. SL does have its share of caveats after all. But it is worth it, and you can do it!