Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Plea to Human Mesh Avatar Makers

Since around the beginning of 2012, there have been (and still are, as I type) SL clients that include the alpha version of Karl Stiefvater's mesh deformer code. As you can see from Karl's video, it causes meshes you wear to be influenced by more shape sliders than just those related to the shape's "skeleton". This has some very important consequences:
  • Mesh clothing is no longer Procrustean; no more alpha masks to force avatars into the shape that the mesh item was designed to fit, and no more having to actually make umpteen sizes of mesh clothing.
  • Mesh avatars themselves are influenced by those same sliders.
I would like to urge you to experiment with those clients with an eye to:
  • making them behave reasonably with a wide range of settings of those sliders--that is, they shouldn't develop discontinuities as the sliders change
  • pushing the envelope on the limits of the standard avatar (in the sense of Snakekiss Noir's Proposition 125 under the old system for suggesting changes, VWR-1258 in the JIRA)
I am interested in the first in part because I'd love to have a mesh avatar, but I want it to look like me. Running into people who look just like me is like meeting someone at the party wearing the same dress, but even more so!

I'm interested in both, though, because I'm a member of Second Life's busty community. We exist because a number of creative folks, bless them, have overcome the avatar's limits with prim breast attachments--but those in turn limit us when it comes to clothing. There's a growing number of wonderful clothiers who cater to us, but we are still cut off from the vast majority of dresses and tops in SL fashion. Not all prim breast users delight in having enormous breasts; the pitiful polygon count of the stock female avatar breasts mean that practically, the stock avatar is far more constrained than the slider might suggest--unless you like having breasts with corners.

With the refinement and general adoption of the mesh deforming code, mesh clothing will grow in popularity, greatly so IMHO. Who wouldn't rush to buy tops that aren't vacuum-sealed to one's breasts making T-shirts with art or text a joke, jeans that don't look like your colon is attached to a vacuum cleaner, and skirts that act like real physical skirts, making glitchpants a bad memory, rather than a bunch of strips of cloth sewn together at the waist that go through your legs when you walk or sit down or the wind blows?

With the mesh deformer and mesh avatars, we of the busty community at least have a chance of avatars that will support the figures we wish to have and that will open what I hope will be the focus of new SL fashion. I beg you to help make this happen. Thank you so much for your time and attention.

To members of the busty community reading this, no, this won't be paradise:
  • I fear that the limits may not be pushed very far, so that not many of us will be able to leave attachments behind.
  • This definitely won't support polymastia.
  • Accommodating those for whom real-time growth is important will require another serious change to SL, namely allowing scripts to modify your sliders in real time without making you assume the position as is done when you modify your appearance. I hope that will happen someday, but it's definitely more distant.
UPDATE: Something I forgot to mention here: if you watch the video, you'll see that mesh clothing and hence mesh avatars will be influenced by the physics layer, giving one control over jiggle.

UPDATE: Upon reflection, it's not that easy for clothing. Mesh clothing is going to be designed for a particular shape, and it will take some way to map it to another shape to be usable on more than one kind of avatar. I think people will want to implement that kind of transformation anyway, so that people can migrate their traditional painted-on clothing to a mesh avatar.

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