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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Keeping Your Feet on the Ground

It's pretty amazing when you think about it...everybody is always just the right height.  Yep, we all start at the top, and we stretch alllll the way down to the ground!  Sadly, this is not always the case in virtual worlds like Second Life.

Avatars floating several inches above the terrain, and others with their feet mired in concrete floors like Jimmy Hoffa are all too common.  Especially these days, and I'll try to explain why.

The main reason for these height-above-ground problems is those lovely sculpty and mesh shoes, complete with sculpty and mesh feet and alpha masks that hide the ugly "regular avatar" feet.

It's those alpha masks.  The maker of shoes generally works from her own avatar shape, and it's probably not the same as yours or mine.  She chooses the point at which the alpha mask leaves off, and your legs begin.  The shoes must be edited so that the top of the shoe correctly meets the (apparently) sawed off end of your leg.  Depending on how different your shape is from the creator's, this can leave your shoes seemingly several inches above the floor, or sunk several inches into the ground.

Until recently, to compensate for this problem there was a Z-axis avatar height adjustment in the Debug Settings.  Some viewers, like Firestorm, even put a handy adjustment control in Preferences, or on a special button. 

But, sad to say, one of the recent updates from Linden Lab removed this functionality.  However, they have provided a clumsy sort of work-around:  Go to Appearance/Edit Shape.  Look at the Body tab, and you will find a new slider control at the bottom, called "Hover".  This defaults to 50%, but can be adjusted to correct your height above ground.

There are three disadvantages to doing things this way.
  1. You can't use the function with a No Modify shape
  2. The increments are too large.  While 50% might have your feet in the ground, 51% has you floating above it.
  3. You have to save your changes, creating a new version of your shape.
This last one can be dealt with, with some planning.  Create three versions of your shape, calling them (for example) "Lindalshape49", "Lindalshape50", and "Lindalshape51".  If you need to, you can create more, but I think you get the idea...a series of shapes, each with a slightly different Hover setting.  Then use the appropriate shape when you create a new Outfit, or when you change your shoes.

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