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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Some Mesh Terms, and Other Shopping Tips

Tonight, someone asked on the SL Answers forum about the difference between mesh, rigged mesh, Liquid Mesh, and fitted mesh.  I don't blame them a bit for being confused!  If you are, too, here's the scoop...

Non-rigged mesh is just a simple, "rigid" mesh object.  It can be edited for size.

Rigged mesh is linked to your avatar skeleton (a process called "rigging" by 3D animators) and can bend and move with you.  However, it cannot be re-sized.

Liquid Mesh is an attempt to get around that, invented by Redgrave.  Liquid Mesh will re-size itself to fit your individual body shape.

Fitted mesh is the "official" Linden Lab version of Liquid Mesh.  Like Liquid Mesh, it will adjust to your body shape automatically.

Like rigged mesh, both Liquid Mesh and fitted mesh will bend and move with you, and cannot be edited with the Edit tools.  Both types will still most likely require that you wear an alpha mask layer to hide bits of your body that would otherwise stick through the mesh.

Some designers are providing both a fitted mesh and a standard rigged mesh (in the various standard sizes.)  Try on both the fitted and the rigged versions.  I've found several outfits where I liked the look of the regular rigged mesh better than the fitted mesh version.

There are a few other pitfalls that can bite you when you are out shopping.  One of them is the fact that more and more designers are making clothes and accessories that are designed to work ONLY with certain other accessories.

For example, only clothing outfits that include an "applier" for the popular Lolas Tango mesh breasts can be used while wearing these breasts.  The applier applies the clothing texture over the mesh breasts so it appears that they are properly covered.

The mesh feet and hands from SLink are also very popular.  Some fingernails are really "appliers" made specifically for these mesh attachments.  Look for the red and white SLink logo on the ads for nails to see if they are "stand alone" fingernails, or texture appliers.  (Even more confusing, for those who want longer nails than the SLink hands have built into them, some SLink nails ARE actual mesh objects that are worn along with the SLink hands!)

Shoes designed for the SLink mesh feet also carry the red and white SLink logo on their ads.  Don't buy these shoes unless you have the SLink feet.  Unlike shoes designed for the normal avatar feet, these shoes do not come with a "foot" inside them, since they expect you already have feet.

Of course, there are other mesh hands and feet besides those from SLink.  N-core, for example, has just released mesh feet designed to work with new shoes designs, also by N-core.  I haven't yet tried any of the new N-core shoes to see if they will work with SLink feet as well, but my guess is, probably not!

The same sort of compatibility problem can be found with clothes.  Lilou Designs has a whole section of their store dedicated to clothing designed to work with Belleza's "Eve" mesh avatar body.

Be careful and read the ads before you buy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FLASH! Linden Lab Develops Preliminary Build to Address Main Viewer Crash Issue!

Some of you, especially those with Intel graphics, might have been experiencing the very frustrating situation of installing the latest viewer update, only to have the viewer crash repeatedly at the "initializing VFS" step.

Linden Lab has developed what (they hope) is a fix for this, although I caution that it has NOT yet been fully tested or approved as an official release.

If you want to try it, here's the download link: http://automated-builds-secondlife-com.s3.amazonaws.com/hg/repo/oz_maint-4678/rev/296857/index.html

Use the CYGWIN version for Windows, the Darwin version for Macs, and the Linux version for...uh, Linux, of course.

UPDATE:  Two new developments.  First, the latest AMD/ATI  Radeon graphics driver is causing problems for some people.  If you experience this, revert to an older driver.

Second, the "fixed" viewer is now available here: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linden_Lab_Official:Alternate_Viewers  Use the Second Life Benchmark Viewer version 3.7.22.297128

Your Cheatin' Virtual Heart

I came across an older post from one of the premiere virtual world blogs, Werner James Au's New World Notes: http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2014/05/cheating-in-second-life.html#more

The post summarizes a study of 400 participants, asking them how they'd feel if their SL partner cheated on them.  The interesting thing is, people who didn't use SL pretty much dismissed this as a non-event.  They couldn't see how the actions of a pixel person on a monitor could upset them emotionally.  However, the people who DID use SL, and were familiar with the phenomenon of immersion, did tend to feel emotional upset.

For those of us who are long time residents of virtual worlds, this result is no surprise.  But it's interesting to see that what we all already knew is now backed up with numbers.

In other news, Philip Rosedale's "High Fidelity" project is generating some interesting results.  One of the things they're exploring over there is getting avatars to respond to their person's gestures and facial expressions in Real Life.  While the avatars themselves are as yet very crude, the way they convey their operators' actions is pretty amazing, and I can hardly wait until this technology is available, combined with more realistic avatars.  Have a look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hX6R6sMyd2M

That, and a cloth and hair dynamics system are what I want for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

FLASH! Latest Viewer Update Won't Run for Some

We are seeing a lot of reports that go something like this:  "When I logged in, the sign on page told me I had to download and install a mandatory viewer update.  When I did, the new viewer wouldn't start, and kept crashing when it got to "initializing VFS."

It's not happening to everyone.  I downloaded and installed the latest version (3.7.20.296094) with no problems.  But if it happens to you, here are some things you can do.

Uninstall and do a clean reinstall of the previous version.  Instructions here:
http://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/How-to-uninstall-and-reinstall-Second-Life/ta-p/1375231

If you did not save the previous version's installation file in your Downloads folder, try one of the many third party viewers.

Or you can try this version: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Release_Notes/Second_Life_Release/3.7.20.296355

Add your comments and any unique information you have, especially about your computer system and graphics card, at this link: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/BUG-7783  That link will also lead you to some related bug reports and discussions of some further things to try.  The comments by Whirly Fizzle are especially worth paying attention to.  Whirly is one of the Firestorm developers, and what he doesn't know about viewer code would fill a very short book indeed.

Finally, if you have automatic updates enabled in your Preferences, I suggest you disable it and choose to download and install updates manually instead, to avoid problems like this in the future.  Let the other early adopters find the bugs!

EDITED 11/14/14 to add:  The ever-alert Nalates Urriah has blogged about this too, and she has some tips to keep your viewer from insisting that it needs a mandatory update.  See her post here: http://blog.nalates.net/2014/11/11/second-life-main-viewer-failing/

Apples and Oranges, and Pie in the Sky

All right, all right.  So I guess I'm not quite out of things to say yet.  So...I'm back!

I'm back to rant a little bit, in fact.

The other night, I met a newbie, and gave my standard "Welcome to Second Life!" greeting.  In response, I got "thanks, but I'm really not going to be here long."  I asked her why, and she explained that she'd heard about Second Life for years and finally decided to check it out, but she was really unhappy with the graphics quality.

Well, I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to help her delve into her graphics preferences and Windlight settings to show her how SL can really rock, in the "look of the world" department.  But as we talked further, it turned out that she was really excited by other offerings on the web with much better graphics, especially something called "Project Nebula."

So, I googled it.  It's harder to find than you might think.  Google InWorldz or IMVU and you'll immediately find a link to their sign up pages.  But the only thing I was able to find on this Project Nebula was a Kickstarter campaign, and eventually a website with some discussion forums.

The Kickstarter and the developer's website had a video preview of this brave new virtual world.  It had avatar customization (looked a lot like SL) and it showed some clips of two spacecraft chasing each other across a desert (looked a lot like SL vehicles -- rather awkward in how they maneuvered.)  It showed the interior of an apartment being customized and furnished (and I've seen homes in SL that looked just as good if not better.)

So, my conclusion was that my newbie friend was stone crazy.  The "superior graphics" she was raving about simply did not come through, not in the demo video that I saw.  But beyond that, Project Nebula does not even exist yet!

Who in their right mind would choose smoke and mirrors and promises over a place with 11+ years of history?  A place with 26,000 regions, and trillions of user hours lavished on creating everything in it?  I have seen several grandiose game or virtual world ideas come and go.  The ones depending on crowdfunding usually go.

Some day, maybe even next year, someone will come up with something to top Second Life, and then we will all pack up and move there.  Maybe it'll be Philip Rosedale's High Fidelity.  Maybe it will be LL's own "new virtual world."  Or maybe it will be something else.  But I'll bet you $L10 that it won't be Project Nebula.