The Sasaya Kayo Interview

Part of what made this winter on North really special to me were the poetic cliffs by Sasaya Kayo, HPMD. I was honestly in a bit of a frenzy towards the end of the North winter make-over in November last year because the winter cliffs were not yet available in the HPMD store and I needed to open the sim! Not only did Sasaya provide me with the winter textures in advance, she also assisted me with the scripting once I had implemented them on the sim. We started an interview back then, but never finished, we both got caught up in our own SL whirlwinds I think. But here is the interview now, just in time before we close winter North for a summer make-over. Enjoy!

Interviewer

First, thank you very much Sasaya for so kindly helping me out with the cliff texture add-on for North. I was in a bind and you did not hesitate to help, you even walked me through how to reconfigure the script. Thanks also for agreeing to this interview. I know I am not the only one who is curious about the person who is behind the magical HPMD products and I can’t wait to learn a little bit about you and your work.

Kayo

It is my pleasure to help you, and I am really glad you are interested in HPMD, I don’t know how much I can tell you my thoughts accurately, but I will do my best!

Interviewer

You have been in Second Life since 2007 and I think you started designing the HPMD stuff shortly thereafter. Your business continues thriving and I can honestly not think of one SL destination sim that I know of that does not use your objects. As a virtual world entrepreneur, what do you think are some of the components that have made your business such a great success?

Kayo

The reason that our shop is getting visibility may be because we have not been aiming for business success. At the time I started Second Life in 2007, I didn’t have any skills except for drawing 2D pictures. But the virtual world made me so excited and I thought of what I can do here, and then decided to express ‘Happy Mood’. I always wished to make people smile with my work because I know their happy feelings becomes the soul source of myself. And I wish to realize happiness relay through HPMD. I have great members in my team and they also have same thought as mine. We have not been aiming for success, but always have searched what is the best way to make people happy. The sim and the shop title also named in such hopes. Our imaginary world has not been fully completed yet, but we want to keep continuing HappyMood from now on too.

Interviewer

As we know, the picky virtual world consumer looks not only for high quality and unique design, but also for practicality of usage, i.e an item needs to be straight forward and provide multiple options. Your cliffs are a good example of this. The HPMD cliffs come with a HUD that provides options to change textures for both the grass and stone parts. The grass textures can also be bought separately and the ground of the sim can then be matched with the cliffs. This is an incredibly versatile system that works! Did you invent this specific HPMD HUD system yourself or were you inspired by and learned from other SL creators?

Kayo

About the dialog/HUD options of the cliff, half is based on my idea. I myself felt the importance of those functions when I was building my sims. The other half… or what gave me a boost, were the requests from my customers. I sometimes received inquiries from the purchasers who hoped for easy customization of the products. One of the customers lived in a light sand land, another lived in a dark forest, and another owned several sims and they all felt it was too hard to change the settings of all the objects or replace them one by one. Their various messages made me think that creating a HUD was the best way to resolve their problems. Customers requests are very important to increase product quality. We can’t make all customer wishes come true, but I would like them to request anything without hesitation. 🙂

Interviewer

When you first started creating objects in the virtual world, the sculpt objects in SL were much less sophisticated than the mesh objects are today, but you nonetheless found a way to create trees, plants and other objects that were so incredibly well put together that they are still used by everyone today. There is a poetry in your work and many of your items look like they have in fact been drawn by hand. Tell us please about what inspires you to create in SL and how you put it all together.

Kayo

First of all, I have a vision for my own sim. It is a fantasy world … however, I have to make many more items than I already have to complete it… but anyway, that theme may make my items poetical. For each of my creations, I usually don’t decide the particular model in advance because I first want experience it on my own on my sim. Of course, there are so many inspirational things that I have seen and heard. It is sometimes an old chair, a tree in the street, wallpapers on website, illustrations, body paints, music, etc… and if possible I take their photos, sketches, bookmarks or write notes. And if I don’t have any good ideas when I start my new work, I look at them again to boost my motivation.

About trees, I usually make them without a clear completed image in my mind because it is not very useful. Even if I have a plan, its atmosphere changes entirely according to the leaf texture. I draw a leaf texture as I would like it to appear at first and apply it on a default plain prim in SL. If I like it, I put the some copies together like the mesh leaves part and roughly decide the whole shape. I start modeling after that step, because the objects in SL often give different impressions from on the modeling software.

About software, I currently mainly use Photoshop and Blender with Avastar for my work, and I often draw by hand when I make the textures in Photoshop, as you said. Also, I have photos of all the material I have ever used and I often use them. In Blender, I think I do only basic methods. I redo the work again and again until  I like it, so it often it takes a lot of time.

Interviewer

I imagine you might be involved with creativity in some way or another outside of SL as well. If you are, please tell us about some of the creative things you do in RL and how these perhaps overlap with your SL creative work.

Kayo

Currently I don’t have creative jobs in RL, but I have been seeking my own expression method for many years. As one possibility, I have been studying a copperplate print from several years ago, and also recently started wood engraving. I have not yet found my best expression style but want to keep studying by getting involved in various creative methods. The theme of my work in SL is Happy Mood, but the studies in RL are just the expression of myself so I go with my various feelings even if it is a dark emotion. However, in most cases they each have a story and trees, grass and other things in nature are used as a motif. These points overlap with my SL work.

Interviewer

Finally, you have been in our virtual world for ten years now and I suspect you are familiar with much of what goes on here. What are some of your favorite things about SL and what do you do here when you are not involved creating for HPMD?

Kayo

Well, I’m sorry but I don’t have a good answer about the question what I do at other time because I love toooo much to create something and creating and building time occupies almost all of my SL life. But even though, I can say clearly I like Second Life very much! Just there is something I look forward to every year… you may be surprised but I like haunted horror attractions very much! Some games and haunted experiences in RL are too scary and I don’t get involved with them. In the case of SL, these events and places are mostly a completely appropriate fear level for me, they have a handmade feeling, and have not only fear but also unique humor expressions sometimes. In addition, I can enjoy these challenges with my friends and especially at limited time events there are many people around me, so I can relax and genuinely enjoy them. Even if I feel very scared, I can drag the viewer title bar and hide half of the screen to out of the monitor lol! In Japan, it is thought that summer is the best horror season and also Japanese creators in SL seem to often select that period when they hold a horror event. So I really look forward to summer.

There are other favorite things than the horror attractions, but most of them are the things I found and came to like after a while since I started SL. But when I first came here, I already liked SL even though I had not encountered and of those favorite things yet. Because Second Life is one of the few places where we can easily do wonderful team-works whenever we want, like events, celebrations, exhibitions, live performances and more, and we can involve people from various countries. That was one of the elements I was the most attracted to… and I think it is still so. Several years before I logged into SL I became acquainted on the internet with many people. During the time I always had thought that I want to try to do something memorable with them, but I couldn’t finalize most of my ideas because of lack of skills/knowledges, difference of interest, costs and some other reasons. In this world, there are many people who have hopes to realize something interesting, and I think SL is one of those places where they can do it.

Interviewer

Thanks a lot for this, Sasaya!

Kayo

You’re very welcome Kate, I’m glad I could tell my thoughts a lot today. Thank you!

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

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