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!

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