The team is working hard to finish off the exterior of the island before concentrating on the interior for the final two weeks of the project. One of the exterior aspects we just tackled is the garden area to the south of the hotel, which contains a custom fountain and seating area as a centerpiece. A fountain contains motion (in the flowing water) and a special kind of effect for the mist as the water hits the surface - these are called particle effects.
I've already touched briefly on how the Second Life scripting language, LSL, can make objects come to life. However, the middle ground between scripting and graphical effects - particle effects - while being a subset of the LSL scripting language, is really versatile enough to qualify as its own category. Particles don't count as prims, you can apply textures to them (even video!), change their color, speed, fade, and direction, and even have them follow you around. They work great for anything from flickering flames to a torrential rainfall that starts and stops on your command. They look the same from any direction, making them great for lighting effects, and they move very realistically - they can even bounce on the ground!
I really like creating with particle effects, because even though I'm not a scripter, the commands for particles are easy to experiment with. There are plenty of free teaching particle scripts in SL that are fully annotated for the beginner, and even an inworld teaching center where you can learn exactly what each particle command does.