March 22, 2016

Improving the Second Life avatar mesh

With all the interest in Linden Lab's "Project Bento", which promises a new, more sophisticated avatar skeleton, I st00pidly decided to ask my favorite question the open Project Bento thread in the SL Forums.

"Is anything being done to improve the avatar mesh?"

Of course I clarified a bit by wondering about adding triangles (vertices) or other possibly simple improvements. I also brought up the issue of everyone wearing mesh bodies to overcome the limitations of the base SL mesh and how complex things had become.

I got a smattering of replies ranging from "no it would break existing content" to "well maybe". But the general theme was "Linden Lab doesn't seem to want to." I did get one reply with the comment to the effect that, if mesh bodies are so complicated, why don't we work on improving that ... along with the query "what makes them so complicated?" Which sort of stunned me since the individual is a mesh creator. I was thinking, uh, wow! You don't know?

Anyway, I thought I'd re-post up my response here:

Well let's see. for my Maitreya mesh body, I have to wear:

  1. alpha
  2. main body
  3. hands
  4. feet
  5. head (optional)
  6. HUD to control alphas, layers, nails, blend neck, select foot shape / height
  7. HUD to control head and apply layers

Then the steps for wearing clothes could include:

  1. Wearing Maitreya compatible clothing HUD to apply texture to clothing layer on mesh body
  2. Wearing Omega relay HUD and Omega compatible clothing HUD to apply texture to clothing on mesh body
  3. Making sure you buy fitmesh type clothing that is tailored for Maitreya body (vs. Belazza vs. Slink Physique vs. TMP vs. whatever)
  4. Making sure attachment points of newly worn things don't interefere with already worn things (add doesn't always work).
  5. Animations for HUD for head.

So now let's try to "Save" a complete outfit. You have to make sure you are wearing ALL of the necessary HUDs that would affect any changes to the outfit plus all the necessary parts to the outfit. Assuming you've remembered everything, the next time you "wear" that outfit, you STILL have to apply the textures and operate the HUDs to make sure the right layers are showing, alphas are in place, etc.

I've been in SL since 2007 and have done my fair share of designing clothing. I just started on the mesh body thing about 3 months ago. I'm a fairly smart girl. It has totally been an "OMFG what have I gotten into" experience. I just can't imagine newbies figuring this out. And I really wonder if Linden Lab is doing the servers any favors with all of this extra junk being loaded onto avatars who really really want to look good.

We are already blowing up compatibility with existing content since each outfit has to be tailored for each brand of mesh body.

Anyway, what do you think? Honestly I would prefer a standardized, improved Second Life avatar mesh and more sliders with wider ranges along with Project Bento.  It would much more newb friendly and it would allow content creators to be able to concentrate on actually making clothing and accessories instead of having to worry about UUIDs, texture mapping to 10 different mesh bodies, embedding scripts in everything, programming HUDs etc. And I have to think it would cause much less impact on Linden Lab's servers as well as the user's computer.

Am I wrong about this? Tell me why!

March 15, 2016

Impossible bikini and impossible boots

One thing I LOVE about Second Life is the imagination creators can show in designing clothing and accessories that would be "impossible" to execute in real life. I'm going to offer up two examples -- an ancient system bikini and a brand new pair of boots from KC Couture.

bikini 1 by SS Designs
I'll start with this ancient system bikini from "SS Designs" called simply, "bikini 1" (circa 2007). I still own it for nostalgia's sake and won a best in bikini contest with it. I think it really illustrates early SL thinking outside confines of gravity, cloth and body parts. :-) This could not exist in real life of course. The top would fall right off and the string bottom would ride up so badly it would hurt. Or something. (Wow that old system shape of mine is sure top heavy.)

Yet, these sorts of outfits are all throughout Second Life. They are made of impossible fabrics, have impossible attachments, wouldn't stay on your body to save your life, come in impossible colors but in SL they exist!

Ivy Boots by KC Couture
Which brings me to the next item, an impossible pair of boots from KC Couture. Now we've come a long way in appearance with 3D mesh adding a degree of realism only dreamed about in 2007. And in the case of "Ivy" boots, while they are virtually as impossible as the blue bikini, they don't LOOK impossible. They just look amazing.

But they are impossible because the lacing would be hugely uncomfortable, the spiral would probably move and it would take you 1/2 hour to put them on (assuming you could). And of course we'd all just LOVE to have HUD driven real life shoes wouldn't we? Need pink tops with purple laces and white soles? Click, click, click done.

Anyway, Ivy is $549 on SL Marketplace and available at a discount for KC group members in world. Have fun being "impossible"!

SLURL to KC Couture:

I'm really pissed off at Karu Karu

last week I wrote an article complaining about the lack of customer response from Karu Karu over a very nice request of mine to revisit a promo purchase where I was charged $399L instead of $99L that the notice had claimed. Read it here:

After not getting any response whatsoever, I left the Karu Karu group. However, I saw I was still getting notices from them. Hmmmmmmmm. Sure enough, I reviewed the chat and the notices were coming from an object called KARU KARU FASHION UPDATES. Well excuse me Chane Karu but I did NOT give you permission to subscribe me in the first place AND my leaving your group should have been notice enough to take me off.

First thing I did was head for the KARU KARU main store which was where the subscriber box was located. I figured I'd just mute the damn thing --- or so I thought. After looking at a few obvious possible sender bots and not finding the source, I realized that the notices were coming from 300M ABOVE the store.

OK, no problem, just fly up. Nope. The KARU KARU store is a trap and you can't physically fly out of it. And direct TP is not available because it's all routed to the store lobby. OK, I've done this stupid dance before. I flew up to the ceiling and managed to SIT on the outside edge of the store. From there I was able to fly up to KARU's sandbox in the sky with TWO sender scripts in prims churning away. I muted both of them but that's really the sucky way to deal with this crap.

KARU KARU sender bots
Clearly the bitch has no intention of supporting real unsubscribes since both boxes are owner touch with avatar key lists buried in them.

Thanks for nothing Chane. Maybe this blog post will put some small dent in your sales for being a jerk.

March 10, 2016

Latif Khalifa has passed away

Latif Khalifa
I was just going through my Twitter feed when I came across a tweet I'd missed from Johann Neddings ( announcing that Latif had passed away. For those that don't know, Latif was the heart & soul behind LibOpenMetaverse and the lightweight viewer, Radegast. As a long time user and supporter of Radegast as well as someone who sent Latif ideas and suggestions, I am really saddened by this. He was opinionated and direct, but if you made a good case, willing to listen.

Latif wasn't in the best of health, but the last time I exchanged emails with him, he seemed to be a little better.

Here's hoping some of the devs that recently backed up the source to Radegast will carry on.

To Latif's family and friends in real life and Second Life, my deepest sympathies and condolences.

March 9, 2016

Today is fashion complaint day

I don't usually complain about things in Second Life. I mean I've been in this silly world since 2007 so I've seen it, done it, bought the shoes, etc. However, just recently two designers have really ticked me off. 

Complaint #1 - Karu Karu - Failure to respond

First up is Karu Karu. Now in case you don't know, Karu Karu is mostly a purveyor of latex and fetish clothing. OK, I'm not really into that stuff BUT, I do like catsuits for my occasional ventures into spy girl roleplay or off-the-wall club contests and the like. Karu Karu makes some fairly nice applier outfits that work well with my Maitreya Lara body. I own maybe 6 or 7 of their outfits.

So I saw a group notice from Karu Karu for a $99L 3-pack ("Popular Pack") of catsuits that I thought would be perfect for my spy girl look! I went to the store, saw the outfit on the wall as a promotion, clicked buy and whoops! It charged me $399L, not $99L. Ick. OK I realized I wasn't wearing my group tag and maybe that did it.

So I immediately sent the creator, Chane Karu, an IM. I asked what happened, could I possibly get a refund on the balance or at least a store credit. 3 days go by and no reply. OK, so I send another IM and I send a very nicely worded notecard since I know store owners often get blasted on IMs.

5 days go by and still no reply. OK, I've designed clothes, owned a store, I still do. I answer all my customer inquiries even if I have to give them bad news (which I rarely do). And I know Chane has been online because I am in her group ya know. But sadly now, not for long.
Vendome by Hypnose

Complaint #2 - Hypnose - Bad Demo 

I've NEVER had a mesh demo outfit crash my viewer and completely blow me out to Windows. But the "Vendome" Maitreya demo from Hypnose did exactly that. I put it on and my usually reliable viewer (Cool VL Viewer) simply disappears and I'm looking at my Windows desktop.

So, after saying WTF to myself, I log back in, put the demo back on and five minutes later, I'm in public naked. WTF seriously? I put it back on and it now it just poofs off immediately. I suspect both the crash and the auto-poofing are due to some sort of auto-detach script in the demo. That is just oh so very uncool to do. No warning, no notecard that says it will happen, the dress just poofs off.

Once it poofs, you can't wear it again. So if I wanted to take some time to adjust my shape to tweak the fit and see how it really works, no chance. It's gone. I'm sorry Hypnose, but five minutes is just about long enough for me to answer an IM and maybe change shoes. It's not long enough for me to see if I really want to buy your st00pid dress based on your st00pid auto-poofing demo. I would much rather wear a "DEMO" sign over my head or deal with DEMO across the textures than this idiocy. "Warning, dress falls off in 5 minutes. Prepare to be nakey."

Finally, for $399, I expect a mesh dress to be rigged. But Vendome is not so your legs just walk right through it when you move. That looks horrible with this style. So at least I got to wear the demo on long enough to know that I wouldn't buy it anyway due to that.

OK that's the end of my whining for the day.

March 6, 2016

Midnight Madness Find from Salt & Pepper

I haven't been out on a Midnight Madness event in like forever so when my friend (and queen of our Tiny Empires realm, Hirilorn), Aabbi Rhode, mentioned that she was staying up late for a MM freebie event, I thought hmmmmmm. She almost NEVER stays up late so they must have some good stuff.

After looking at the previews, I immediately totally wanted a particular mesh outfit from Salt & Pepper and WTG me! I scored both the "Midnight" and "Dawn" versions of Audrey!

So here's the "Dawn" color way on my Maitreya Lara body. Audrey sort of has a bit of a 1930's feel to it and evokes a sparkly, sequined look which is hard to do in Second Life due to all the texture stretching that goes on.

This is all one mesh (no separate top/bottom) and the Maitreya version does the auto-alpha thing appropriately. No random spots showing through.

Excellence in a freebie and well worth staying up past my bedtime too! I got a few other goodies too that I'll try to post when I get the time.

While Midnight Madness is over, here's the SLURL to Salt & Pepper's store: