Monday, June 21, 2010

Big Beautiful Changes Soon in SL

SecondLife users might get a boost of confidence soon as it seems Linden Labs might have done something right and plan to introduce a new feature soon that will signifigantly improve the SL experience, at least from an artistic and technical level.

Without going into too much detail, you have to remember that everything in SecondLife is made of meshes.  Some meshes are very simple, like a cube; and some meshes are very complex, like an avatar.  Meshes not only determine how things look in SecondLife, they also determine how they interact.

In the video below you see a SecondLife avatar interacting with two objects: one is a ship and one is a sort of steam-punk building, -- both objects are what we would normally call sculpties, or single prim objects made up of an imported mesh map, but these are very different from the sculpties you're used to seeing in SecondLife.

At a couple of points in the video, you'll notice he edits the objects showing the wire-mesh for the objects.  Without knowing the exact parameters or limitations involved here, it's clear that these new meshes use many times more vertices than we're used to with sculpties.  This is a big change and will mean much more complex and more realistic objects for SecondLife.

The other thing you'll notice is that as the avatar navigates his way around inside the sculptie building, his avatar collides with the walls and floors just as if they were made of regular prims.  The collision map matches the sculpt map which currently isn't possible in SecondLife.

Although not something most SL users think about, this is a huge deal and will make SecondLife look and feel quite different, not just more realistic but a real paradigm shift in how we use and make things in SL.

The Format here is called "Collada", an open-source .xml code for 3D objects, that's been around for a while, but never applied to SecondLife before.  I've read where Collada might be applied not only to prims but avatars as well, meaning an infinite variety in avatar shapes might soon be available.

Supposedly the Collada roll-out on SL will happen very soon, maybe by the end of this month.  As an artist I'm very, very excited about the possibilities.  For regular users it means big changes as well, like clothes you actually wear instead of pasted to the shape of your avatar and avatars shapes that are vastly more varied and vastly more realistic than anything we've seen before.

The below video by Timmi Allen studios shows what purportedly is one of the new Collada mesh avatars.


  1. I see a definite downside to this, and that being that making content creation technically more difficult will further limit "amateur" content.

    "It all starts with a prim", a simple box. That was the catch phrase for about four years.
    When we went to sculpties three or four years ago the ceative learning curve stopped for many *average* people.

    Will mesh change our world? Absolutely.
    It would seem to be inevitable...but I fear that making content creation technically beyond the capability of the average user will only tend to push Secondlife further into the direction that The Benevolent Monarchy seems to want to go. That direction?...a 3D Facebook/Farmville strictly consumer oriented brief log-on log-off culture.

    We, as a society today, desire instant gratification and the ongoing problem Secondlife has always faced is that average people aren't willing to invest the kind of time that it takes to learn the viewer... much less learn content creation.
    Facebook is pretty easy...takes little "commitment"... and has 400,000,000 users. With Farmville and paying real life money to buy a tractor... that's an attractive place to sell advertising (read money maker).

  2. Yes, Brinda is right, making meshes WELL uses another software programme tho it can be done, a bit, on Blender.

    3D Max, for example costs more than a top-end computer.......

  3. There will be a learning curve to use the new meshes, but there are also some really great free programs available to make them.

    One is Google Sketch up, which is, in many ways, just as easy as prim building in SecondLife, but with many more options.

    Collada won't replace prim building, which remains an elegant and vital tool for the SecondLife builder, but adds another class of shapes not possible with regular prims.

    Look at sometime to see what all is capable by amateur artists using Google Sketchup.

    All of things and much more will be importable into SecondLife.


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