The development which has had the greatest impact on my Second Life this year was actually introduced in 2012!
Mesh finally came into it’s own the second half of 2013 and the difference has been dramatic! For the first time I bought a house rather than making it myself from prims. The level of detail and complexity of shapes simply could not have been made from prims and the land impact (LI) is several times lower than any crude prim equivalent, even using convex hull!
The real surprise came when I furnished it. Even loaded with mesh furnishings, knick-knacks and houseplants and fully landscaped it barely tips 1000LI! This effect is accelerating as creators get better at making more complex yet efficient stuff. I recently saw a cupboard, fully loaded with dishes of various shapes and sizes with a LI of 1. Smaller individual item are showing up in marketplace quickly now (any bets we are seeing homework from students in graphic design?).
The only down side I can see is that some people with lesser graphics cards have difficulty, often lagging even with very low draw distances. Only the inevitable march of hardware obsolescence will fix this.
I miss making most of my own stuff (Blender totally befuddles me), but that happened with the introduction of sculpties, mesh just takes it to the next level. The quality and low LI of what I can buy compensates my ego though.
I look forward to this trend continuing into 2014. It could get exciting.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clark
The long and often crazy debate over how to fit mesh clothing to the avatar (STORM-1716) has reached a turning point. In a post there, in an announcement in the official blog, and in a newly created STORM-1985; Oz Linden makes it official that they are going with what most of us know as “Liquid Mesh” as opposed to the Mesh Deformer created by Qarl. As explained in a new wiki post, LL has added 5 additional collision bones, largely so that your jiggly bits will not poke through.
I have been hoping / expecting some sort of action on this for some time. Although taking this step now probably indicates that they are not yet ready to move to Avatar2, this is a very good interim decision. The key thing is that there is a decision! A direction forward had been mapped, and we can soon expect better fitting mesh clothing from our excellent clothing designers.
This announcement was handled very well by the lab. Thank you OZ for a clear, rumor free announcement.
“Some of the best lessons are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom of the future.”Dale Turner
Things have been going along smoothly in Second Life of late, or it seems so to me. There has been activity from Linden Lab, just not much unexpected or inexplicable. Let me illustrate:
- The new Destination Islands: obviously a work in progress. Even LL is not foolish enough to think dumping newbies in world randomly is good for retention. Time will tell.
- Premium Wilderness: – – – yawn – – – The Moles do good work but by it’s very nature the DPW implements what “the boss” says. A fine example of what happens without the personal, emotional investment of resident builds. We can hope that some Lindens got their hands dirty and learned some building skills in the process here.
- Pathfinding and the other tools LL developed for Linden Realms (created to demo and test those tools): These are working their way through the shakeout process toward full implementation, it will probably be next year before they really impact SL.
- Mesh: I am seeing more and more mesh builds for sale but this will not reach it’s full potential until the parametric deformer is fully adapted and we can have mesh clothing that fits properly.
- Direct Delivery: Rolled out to the grid in a stripped down basic form. Even so it is buggy! If anyone is surprised by that you need to check your meds.
- New Phoenix/Firestorm update: The highlight of my month; very efficient, TONs of features, lots of ways to customize your user interface. Be prepared to spend some time setting it up to your liking, this is not plug-and-play!
So you see, for me this has been an interlude of sitting back and watching the passing parade, trying not to be drawn into the drama and overreaction of the moment.
“– – – all’s well with the world.”
2011 has not been an especially good year with respect to communication from the Lab. A rumor here, a casual comment there, occasionally a missive from above combine to give us a glimpse into what we can expect at least in the beginning of the new year.
- No more magic boxes. This project is already well along, nearing general release. As I understand it there will be a special inventory folder that will, in effect, be the magic box. I do not know how I feel about selling directly from my inventory, I will be somewhat surprised if there are not security glitches and exploits in the first months. We will have to wait and see.
- Mesh will see increasing adoption throughout Second Life as content creators explore it’s possibilities. This will get a huge boost once Qarl is finished with the Parametric Deformer* and LL officially adopts it. I can hardly wait for my first mesh jacket that actually fits!
- Gaming tools and code will be made available sometime early in 2012. I am not big on SL games, but it will be interesting to see what Mad Peas comes up with 🙂
- Pathfinding —— I am not sure what this will accomplish other than better zombies and greeter bots, but it will be interesting to see.
- Last Names will be back for newbies. This is in the talking stages at Linden Lab, but given the clamor over “Resident” I expect some possibility to change to a name from a list. It would be interesting and a lot of fun if LL created a way for residents to suggest last names for them to choose from. We could even participate in the vetting process, weeding out names that might cause problems or misunderstandings.
My Wish List in addition to those things above:
- Continue progress toward making everything work a little better. Lag, Region crossings, Sim performance all have improved, but there is more work to do!
- Something must be done about Mainland occupancy rates. In my opinion the surest way to do this is by increasing the land allowance for premium residents. Yes, Linden Homes and the Land Barons would take a hit, but it would be correcting an unintended benefit they enjoy at the expense of the mainland.
- Linden Lab will make a complete cock-up of one of the items above.
- One development from above will be an overwhelming success and Linden Lab will not get the praise they deserve for it.
- There will be those who will predict the end of Second Life as we know it in response to every project and feature LL puts out!
*Last minute update: Qarl has posted a preliminary test version of the parametric deformer!!
The messenger has made his way down from the towers of the gods.
The herald has read the proclamation and it is posted outside the city hall for all to see.
All is well in the world and the future is bright!
- The Linden’s first experiment with creating a new feature set, then actually making an application of it (Linden Realms) has worked out well. In the process of actually creating something using the new gaming code LL learned a lot and hopefully gained some respect for the residents struggles when they have to debug half baked ideas implemented before they are ready.
- As a result of their hands on experience with the new gaming tools they recognized that there is potential for abuse in some of the features so they will not just be made available willy-nilly to everyone. They will be introduced via a “creators” program which will verify those with access to them.
- Linden Labs introduced a new viewer with an improved user interface. I can’t help thinking that they are still following the lead of the Third Party Viewers like Firestorm, but they are doing it their way, incorporating their own take on the “ideal viewer”. The way they handle buttons is in some respects an improvement over the Firestorm viewer I am most familiar with.
- After a very long and painful development period Mesh is with us to stay. There is still more to do, a parametric deformer so clothing works properly being the most obvious thing still lacking. Over the next year or two we will see what resident creators can do with the new technology. Right now it seems limited, but so did sculpties when they first came out.
- Additional benefits of premium memberships began to appear in the past year. Not enough I think to make a real difference but more are promised in 2012, hopefully enough to inspire more people to buy land of their own. The mainland really needs it. (Dare I again suggest increasing the tier allowance for a premium account?)
- We are assured that tier will not increase in the coming year. Ironic in that there has been an unrealistic outcry that tier should be decreased.
- The first promised new feature of next year will probably be “pathfinding”. This will greatly improve the performance of Zombies 🙂 and other objects which are tasked to move around a region.
- Lastly, and far from least; Linden Labs will be launching some completely new products that have nothing at all to do with Second Life. – – – – – calm down! – – – – -. This is actually a good thing. Diversity will increase stability for Linden Lab, both as a business and with their workforce. Give them a chance, this does not necessary mean they are taking their eye off Second Life.
- Finally we are thanked for being customers. That is something LL has not always remembered. Customer is a big step up from guinea pig or victim.
Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and a Bright Sosltice.
The Phoenix/Firestorm team recently released a new beta version of FireStorm (v184.108.40.20615) which supports mesh. This version does not support uploading mesh.
The team was very reluctant to release this version but peoples demand for mesh forced their hand. There are many bugs! The Phoenix main page links to a list. Try this at your own risk, not every person will be effected by every bug. For me, search does not work at all, a blank screen. This probably is the result of my antivirus throwing out a file. Also shadows and invisiprims are conflicting again.
Most of these problems are in the LL code or in the way FireStorm must adapt to the LL code. Every one is working to get a full release version ready, but the team will not release crap! Give them time to do their jobs well (after all Phoenix/Firestorm is Built, Maintained and Supported by volunteers).