Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Avatar 2.0, A Wish List

I was recently talking to a girl who was almost all attachments...prim breasts, prim eyes, nails, hands, feet, and butt.  She said she looked forward to the day when we would all build our avatars like assembling a Lego model.

I don't agree.  I DO think that the basic Second Life avatar is way overdue for a makeover, but I also think that the idea of an avatar, with adjustable sliders to customize it, is still a good one.  It provides a starting point for resident creators to make all manner of accessories for it, a "ground base" that everyone can use.  So here's my wish list for Avatar 2.0.  Readers might not agree with all the things on my list, or may have some better ideas.  That's OK, and your comments will be appreciated!

More Detail in the Mesh.  The avatar mesh doesn't have enough polygons for clean deformation.  It's particularly bad in the inner thigh and buttocks region, in the face around the nose, and the feet, but more detail everywhere is needed...for example, to correct the blockiness in breasts or belly that becomes horribly apparent at larger sizes. 

Better Hands.  Fingernails, in particular, are a perennial problem.  There isn't enough mesh detail to paint a good looking manicure in the glove clothing layer, and prim nails that are attached to the only available point, the overall "hand" point, pop off the fingers when the hand is deformed into one of the very limited set of hand morph positions.  I'd like to see each finger with its own attach point.  Or, increase the mesh detail level in the hands, and add a set of Appearance sliders to change nail length and shape.  Or, even do both!  There should also be a special attach point for "held" objects, so that picking up a glass doesn't remove your nails and rings.  The hands should be actually animated, not limited to a set of morph positions.  Or at least, provide a much wider selection of morphs, or provide a system for creators to upload their own morphs.

Better Feet.  The clubs we have now are so bad that we happily chop them off and wear shoes with replacement feet.  How much nicer if the stock feet were pretty, and could be morphed like the hands, to take different positions and to fit into shoes, without the need for the current awkward workarounds.

Color Match.  At present, the colors in skin and clothing layers do not respond to the Second Life lighting models in the same way as textures applied to prims.  This makes it difficult to match the appearance of clothing layers with clothing attachments.  Both types of textures should respond to lighting in the same way!

Better Facial Expressions.  Here again, we are limited to a small set of morph positions.  Add facial animations to the avatar, or a system whereby creators can upload morphs for expressions.  I would also like to see some control provided over eyelid movement, at least a way to control the blink speed...and an attachment point on the eyelids for eyelashes, so they would move with the eyelids.  More control over the mouth is a must.  If we had a slider that would part the lips, as well as the one to turn up the corners, it would go a long way...especially if these parameters could be placed under script or animation control.  Facial expressions will become an even more important element of communication, if virtual reality headsets like Oculus Rift become a commonplace.  We will be spending a lot more time actually looking at others' faces!

Cloth and Hair Collision Detection.  This would let skirts drape properly when we sit, instead of falling down between our legs, and would keep hair from sinking into our shoulders or face.  While we're asking, let's ditch flexiprims entirely and substitute true flexible materials. (Flexiprims, like sculpties, are something of a cheat...the work is done by your graphics card, and the flex you see, or the organic sculpted shape, is not the shape seen by the Second Life physics system or servers.)

Better Hover.  The old Z-position adjustment allowed for fine control over an avatar's height above ground.  The new method of using the "Hover" setting in Appearance is far too granular, and it's not even usable if one is wearing a No Mod shape.

Built-in Facelight.  OK, I know some facelight haters out there are screaming.  But a subtle facelight can still add a lot to one's appearance, even with the new lighting models.  And a built-in light would save an attachment point, and provide a way to cut down on the number of folks wearing three, four, or six-emitter lighting systems and blazing away like a nuclear explosion.

User Defined Animation Priority.  At present, an animation's priority is defined by the creator, when she uploads it.  This isn't always the priority the user wants, and the ability to move an animation up or down in priority would be very useful.

Furries, Tinies, Petites, Giants, and Animals.  I don't often wear these types of avatars, but for those who like them, couldn't we have a wider selection in the "gender" box than simply "male" or "female?"  One click and your avatar and its sliders would transform into a whole new avatar category.  Granted, this would obsolete a huge amount of content overnight, but it would also open up a lot of new avenues for creativity.

Fitted Mesh.  A means of re-sizing rigged mesh clothing to fit the shapes we've spent so much time creating for ourselves.  (Yes, I know...this one is actually in the works.  Yay!)

And, although it's not an improvement to the avatar for Oculus Rift in the viewer...a variant of the user interface that can be used with virtual reality immersion headsets.


  1. Well, one thing I'd like to see in an Avatar 2.0 system is support for additional sets of bones, ones that would be already standardized for use in, say, non-human avs. For instance, a standardized set of bones for the tail, or movable ears, or the like, so that one could have animations that work on ANY av with a tail and ANY av with movable ears, rather than each tail or each set of movable ears needing its own, separate animation standard.

    1. 3 years later and there workin on it

    2. As Yolo says, they ARE working on it. Google "Project Bento" to find out more. New bones for facial expressions, hand motions, wings, tail and more!

    3. As Yolo says, they ARE working on it. Google "Project Bento" to find out more. New bones for facial expressions, hand motions, wings, tail and more!

  2. 3 years later and there working on it