by Paypabak Writer, Chief Staff Writer
“What do bad little trains get for Christmas? Toys!
“What do good little trains get for Christmas? Lumps of coal!”– Fnordian Toy Train
Welcome to the whimsical world of the ingenious SL scripter/creator Fnordian Link (and partner/helpmate, Moon Fairymeadow), which is perfectly encapsulated at Fnordian Furniture in Second Life. Here you will find the aforementioned toy train running along tracks it creates and leaves behind as it moves around the floor. You will find approximately 220 items! Many are variations of magic mirrors and textured lamps, but according to Fnord, the breakdown is “about a dozen unique magic items, 24 different gadgets, 20 abstract sculptures, 40 pieces of furniture, and over a dozen other miscellaneous items.” The larger sculptures are kept outside, while the gadgets, magical items, and various lucky chairs and Midnight Madness plaques are inside two large rooms that make up the store. In addition, Fnord and Moon have a wonderful maze that we walked through to find a comfy spot to sit and hold our interview, while two small dragons sipped tea with us.
PW: Do you build things out of recognizing a practical need or just get ideas out of the blue?
FL: A little of both really. Sometimes I try to think what it is that people have a need for or a noticeable gap in the marketplace that could be filled. Other times I come up with an interesting idea and run with it. And still others, a friend or associate suggests something and if it appeals to me, I’ll develop it.
PW: What’s the most popular product and which is your favorite (don’t worry if you have more than one)?
FL: By far, my best-selling item is the Fnordian Multiporter IV. Between Xstreet and in-world sales, I sell about five per day. After the Multiporter, the various designs and styles of Magic Mirrors have probably sold the most copies altogether, especially as it was one of the first scripted items I made.
Of course, I love the Multiporter, too–and its new cousin, the PicturePorter–but my favourite products are some of the toys that I’ve created. The BubblePop! (think bubblewrap you can walk on) is fun and great for stress-relief. The Living Letters rez the words you type as colourful, jiggling temp-prims that can also be popped, and the little Toy Train that makes its own tracks and tells jokes is great for riding around the store on.
PW: Wow! Those three are the things that really charmed me about your store! I tried real hard but could not pop all the bubbles before they came back!
Fnordian Link chuckled and replied: I think you have to enlist some friends to help you pop (or perhaps transform into a really LARGE avatar).
FL: Tell me about the Limmerbot … what drove you to build it?
FL: LimmerBot is Fnordian Furniture’s electronic mascot (but you’re welcome to purchase a copy if you like). Some stores have greeter-bots that give out LMs, notecards or try to answer product questions. Not here. All Limmer wants is for you to listen quietly while he recites a limerick…or two, or three. Granted, he does get a little sulky if you tell him no, but he’ll soon forgive you and offer up more rhyming verses for your listening pleasure.
This was a couple of years back, but I believe I was reading a poem I had written (perhaps even a limerick) to my friend Cheri, when she said I should build a robot that recites my poetry. I don’t think she even remembers making the suggestion now, but the idea lodged in my brain and at some point I decided “Why not?” and began to put LimmerBot together. My aim was to create a low-prim “classic” robot look–nothing too human, but with a definite head, two robotic arms, and a distinct motion and personality.
Once the detection and movement scripting was in place, a little Googling led me to some free software that converted text-to-speech (using Window’s “Microsoft Sam” voice), and I was able to plug in my limericks (all LimmerBot’s limericks are of my own creation). The text-to-speech software was a bit basic, but fiddling with some of the words allowed most of them to be pronounced fairly intelligibly.
LimmerBot’s owner can control his roam radius, detection distance and sleep time from a menu, and there’s even a self-destruct option if you’re having a bad day (or if Limmer’s circuits go haywire and suddenly turns into a killer robot bent on your destruction).
PW: We have one at slFIX!
FL: Oh good to hear! How is Limmer getting on there?
PW: Well, he’s a bit fresh with our female greeter bot, Sundaye Broome, but otherwise we all fall down laughing at his limericks! Tell us about the Haggle Box … what’s going on in there?
FL: The basic idea of a vendor that you could haggle with over price was suggested by my former SL landlord. Over a year passed before I decided to develop it, incorporating a selection of quips, comments, and often-snarky comebacks that give the Haggle Box its own unique personality.
The way it works is the customer sees the initial asking price and makes an offer by paying the box any amount desired. If the offer’s too low, the Haggle Box will most likely refuse it. If it’s not accepted but is a reasonable offer, the Haggle Box may lower its asking price, but if you insult it with too many low offers it will raise its price instead. If you haggle carefully and keep at it, you can usually wear the box down until you get the item at a pretty decent price.
Most store owners aren’t comfortable with customers who ask for discounts or haggle over prices, but at the same time, most also don’t mind offering discounts. The Haggle Box is the perfect solution because the customer can haggle with the box instead. I think the Haggle Box took a bit of time to catch on but now that it’s in a number of stores, customers are a lot more comfortable with it.
PW: So can you tell us what is next in development?
FL: That’s a secret. ;) Actually, the things I’m working on aren’t really developed enough to talk about yet but I can tell you about the most recent product releases if you like.
In fact, we have two recent releases. The first is the Fnordian Daily Discount, a colourful vending device that displays up to seven different products at the same time. Any of them may be purchased any day of the week for the regular price, but each one can also be bought at the discount price one day of the week. For example, LimmerBot is Friday’s product and can be bought from the Daily Discount for L$600 any day other than Friday. If you buy him on Friday, however, you’ll get him at the incredible discount price of only L$275. The Daily Discount is easy to set up with its menu-driven interface, and both the regular and discount prices can be quickly set as desired, and easily changed at any time. The Fnordian Daily Discount retails for L$500.
Our other new item is the spooky thematic divination device known as the Fnordian Spirit Table. This was another collaborative effort, with the main idea coming from Lalinda Lovell and a lot of feedback and graphics suggestions coming from my partner Moon. The Spirit Table consists of a stylish table top with a number of built-in textures that the owner can choose from, surrounded by eight cushions. To use the table, simply pull up a cushion and type you question, proceeded by the word spirits. The spirits appear (accompanied by sound effects), and three words slowly appear on the table, providing an answer. While sometimes cryptic, the answers are often eerily appropriate. Effects and sound volumes are all controllable by the owner, and the word lists in the Spirt Table’s contents are fully editable so you can customize it to your liking. The Fnordian Spirit Table also sells for L$500, and with Halloween just around the corner it makes the perfect addition to any haunted home.
And there you have it! As you can see from the accompanying pictures, Fnordian Link has created a very special G-rated place in Second Life, where the imagination is challenged and rewarded! (This is actually only half of the whole interview, so if people want more, I can continue it and explore the origins of his unusual name, his favorite scripters, what he thinks about the development environment of SL, and the construction of the wonderful labyrinth outside his store.)