Mesh Deformer and Fitted Mesh

Before I start this post, I’d just like to point out that this is old news. I’m not adding anything new here but the reason I am writing this is that many friends and acquaintances haven’t been aware of the current direction that mesh deformers are taking, so this article is a convenient place to direct people to. It seeks to be a fairly short and easily-digested article, which links to further reading.

Mesh has been around for a while now, and  I think most people have decided where they are with it. At one end of the spectrum we have people who pretty much won’t wear any rigged mesh unless it just happens to fit them “as is” and at the other end of the spectrum we have people willing to have a different version of their shape for almost every outfit they own. And I’m not exaggerating here; two of my closest friends fall into those two extremes.

It’s clear that the Standard Sizes are far from perfect. They were a reasonable workaround to the problem of Rigged Mesh being uneditable, but they are not a solution. Many people (myself included) have been extremely reluctant to alter their natural shape, feeling that the whole point of Second Life is to be who we want to be and that clothes should fit to us and not us to the clothes.

One of the first people to propose a solution was Karl Stiefvater (Qarl Fizz) who proposed the Mesh Deformer project (also known as the Parametric Deformer), which was successfully Crowd Funded and which Karl put a lot of work into. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people know about this project and of those, a majority are wondering why it hasn’t made it into the Official Viewer yet.

However, it was by no means the only solution and Redpoly Inventor proposed rigging garments to the “collision bones” of the avatar skeleton, which is what evolved into “Liquid Mesh”. The shortcomings of this in its current state is that really there aren’t enough “collision bones” to do a proper job and because it is not officially supported by Linden Lab, it was an unofficial solution and hence prone to breakage in the future.

However, on 20-Nov-2013, Linden Lab posted an entry on their blog entitled Making Mesh Garments Fit Better outlining how they intend to officially adopt the “Liquid Mesh” approach and develop it further, adding additional custom bones in order to overcome the shortcomings of the current approach.

Where does this leave Karl’s Mesh Deformer? Well, parked up and thrown away essentially although one could argue that perhaps it spurred Linden Lab into action and Karl has said that he thinks that what LL is proposing is the technically simpler solution (although is correspondingly more complex for content creators). You can read more on an article that Inara Pey wrote, which includes an analysis of it all and also quotes Karl’s response to the news.  If you don’t follow her blog then I would really recommend it as it is always very well written and very in-depth.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Linden Lab progress this. It’s way overdue, and the sooner we get an official (and effective) solution to the issue of garment deformation the better.


Further reading

(Links are sorted newest to oldest)

External links

SL projects update week 50 (2): Fitted mesh, deformer, viewer code contributions
Inara Pey (12-Dec-2013)

Fitted mesh: “LL’s assessment here is mostly good” – Qarl
Inara Pey (24-Nov-2013)

Lab looks to make mesh garments fit better with the Fitted Mesh project viewer
Inara Pey (20-Nov-2013)

Making Mesh Garments Fit Better
The announcement by Linden Lab (20-Nov-2013)

Liquid Mesh: looking from all sides
An analysis of Liquid Mesh by Inara Pey (26-Aug-2013)

Further links are available at the end of each of Inara’s posts.

Other articles by me on mesh

Mesh convert
How few changes you need to make to your shape to be compatible with
a Standard Size (15-Nov-2013)

It’s starting to Mesh
A short update on how Mesh was working (or not) for me (07-Apr-2013)

Mesh deformer: interview with Qarl Fizz
A reblog of one of Inara’s posts, with further comment by me. (22-Jun-2012)

Oh what a Mesh!
My experiences of Mesh after it had been around for a good few months (16-Jun-2012)

Unencumbered by the trappings of real life
Immersionism vs Augmentism, and how Mesh affects it (22-Apr-2012)

Mesh
My first, somewhat naive post on the subject (27-Sep-2011)

Mesh convert

UPDATED:
Initially I based my shape changes on Standard Size ‘Small’, but after a couple of weeks I have realised that ‘Medium’ (with some modifications) is closer to my desired shape, as  ‘Small’ lost too many of my curves and made me look skinny. I’ve therefore updated this article accordingly.

After a long absence from Second Life, I’m kind of rediscovering it again.

One of the reasons for this is that I have finally bitten the bullet, so to speak, and created a copy of my shape and made it compatible with Standard Sizing. Although this seems like a massive climb-down from my previous stance on not wanting to change my shape, the thing that influenced my decision (quite apart from the desire to wear more modern clothing) is that there are surprisingly few parameters you need to change in order to have something that is broadly compatible with one of the Standard Sizes.

I chose to bring mine closer to the ‘Medium’ size, which meant adjusting the following parameters:

  • Body Fat: 11 (15)
  • Torso Muscle: 38 (38)
  • Breast Size: 58 (54)
  • Love Handles: 31 (11) [Note: I chose not change this]
  • Belly Size: 6 (2)
  • Leg Muscle: 56 (42) [Note: Again, I chose not to change this]
  • Butt Size: 44 (45)
  • Saddle Bags: 36 (41)

(Figures shown in brackets are what my normal size was)

The two things that looked awfully wrong with that were the Love Handles and Leg Muscle values, which I chose to leave unchanged. The former gives me the more curvy look I prefer, and I predict should not affect many clothes as the important thing is not to clip, although obviously some clothes will hide my narrower waist and make me look slightly shapeless. Some crop tops may require a “half-way house” version with more waist in order to look right.
With the Leg Muscles value, I figured that this would predominantly affect only boots and I could go for S or XS ones for that.

I have to say that I am really encouraged by the fact that I still look like “me” after the changes, and I’d encourage anyone else holding off from Rigged Mesh clothing to try similar (assuming your shape is modifiable). It has really opened up the doors to a whole new round of shopping in SL for me. And you know how much I love shopping!

I managed to make a comparison pic using an animated GIF. You can see the differences between my natural shape, the adjustment for Medium, and the Small from the original. Whilst I still prefer my natural shape, the Medium one is an acceptable compromise.

Comparison of shapes

Comparison of shapes (should be animated)

Winding down

Winding down by Becca Ashbourne
Winding down, a photo by Becca Ashbourne on Flickr.

At face value, this is a nice little pic of my sky island and of  me winding down on a hammock at the end of a nice day.

Sadly it’s more metaphorical than that, because the very good friend who has let me keep my lovely sky island rezzed on her sim is giving it up when the tier is due in a few days and I shall, for the first time in years, be homeless in SL.

Given how little I log on these days, or log on just to go to an event or to see a friend, I will give vagrancy a go for a while and see how it works out for me. I’m going to miss my little place though, for sure.

Cutting remarks

Cutting remarks by Becca Ashbourne

Me showing off my unique Katana, courtesy of Swordmaster Talus of Wasenshi featuring a black and pink tsuka (handle) unique to me and a silver bird design on the tsuba (hand guard).

Because I’m quite petite, the sword is actually closer in length to a Wakizashi than a Katana, but since I’m carrying it as my main sword then it is a Katana. If that makes sense.

The pic itself is pretty much unedited – I just corrected some clipping on the hem of the skirt and that was about it.

Here’s a close-up of the tsuka and tsuba

Cutting remarks by Becca Ashbourne

Against his better judgement, Talus agreed to do a back-mounted twin katana set for me, even though he said I would probably slice my ears off the first time I drew them. After he had done them and I showed them off, he admitted that they did look pretty cool. In a Hollywood kind of way. ha ha.

It’s starting to Mesh

All Dressed Up by Becca Ashbourne
All Dressed Up, a photo by Becca Ashbourne on Flickr.

Having previously said that I am not a great fan of Rigged Mesh, I’m slowly starting to discover things that I like, and that fit me (or fit near enough that a minor tweak is all that is needed). In this case it’s this lovely dress by Baiastice and hair by elikatira (I still want to say ETD, which dates me I guess!).

The dress is lovely, but not without limitations. For a start you can’t wear shoes with it, and I love shoes! The other is that occasionally when dancing, you can see that it’s invisible inside and that I have invisible legs. I guess that’s an intrinsic issue with Rigged Mesh.

 

 

Lack of engagement

Inara Pey recently blogged on the state of Second Life, and her comments on ‘Engagement’ and general malaise struck a real chord with me.

In the 5½ years I have been in SL, I’ve experienced the usual ebb and flow of interest that I think most long-timers do, but I’ve found myself in a particularly long ebb lately, to the extent that I felt I was mainly logging on in order to be with my SL hubby. He had been feeling much the same, and sadly a few weeks ago announced to me that a number of factors, including increased workload, RL, and this same lack of engagement, meant he did not know when he would next be logging into SL again. We’d been together well over a year, which is a long time in Second Life terms. We still email each other every day (he never fails to leave an email for me when he goes to bed so that it is waiting for me when I wake up), but I have no idea when I will see him again in SL.

Since then I have gone from logging in every day to rarely logging in, and when I do log in it’s been for a specific reason such as a music event (usually the wonderful Gina Gracemount or the amazing Tukso Okey) or to spend time with my friend Bunny. But most of the time, I find that other things are holding my interest more. My own RL has got a little busier and is filling my evenings more, such that I don’t have as much time available to spend on SL. But the fact is that if I was bursting to go on SL, like I once was, then I know I would find the time. So this really corroborates what Inara is saying.

Perhaps I should be trying to find new things in SL to experience, maybe increase my circle of friends, perhaps try to re-ignite my love of SL photography. But I just find myself without any real motivation to do so. My SL photography is particularly depressing, because I can take ages (hours, even) over a SL picture and then find myself lucky to get 200 views in a month, yet with my RL photography I can post a picture of me in a nice dress and get 200 views in a day. I’m not saying that in a self-aggrandising way, but to illustrate how soul-destroying that is for the SL photography. I have a very similar experience with blogging.

So where does this leave me, where does it leave my SL, my SL photography and also this blog? I don’t know. Certainly this is the first time since August 2012 where I’ve felt I have had anything I wanted to say and I don’t know when I next will either.

Second Life to become a game?

Well, perhaps not quite. But Linden Lab has made an announcement that Second Life will be expanding to Steam ‘in the next month or so’.

The announcement reads:
“As some sharp-eyed developers have speculated, we’re going to make Second Life available on Steam in the next month or so.

Many of us have friends who are avid Steam gamers, but if you’re not familiar, Steam is a very popular online game platform that offers a wide range of titles (and will soon also offer other software as well).

What does this news mean for Second Life? You’ll still be able to access Second Life just as you can today; there won’t be any change to that. But, the more than 40 million people who use Steam will also be able to get Second Life as easily as they can get games like Portal.

We’ll make an announcement on the blog when Second Life is actually available on Steam, but in the meantime, if you have friends who are Steam gamers, let ‘em know it’s coming!”

Source: community.secondlife.com/…

This is a very interesting announcement, given that Valve have recently announced that they will soon be allowing non-games applications to join Steam. This does give an ambiguity as to whether Linden Lab are continuing to move Second Life towards a games platform or whether this is simply a case of them taking advantage of Valve’s more relaxed policy on what applications can join Steam.

Certainly there is a strong case that Steam has a high density of the kind of people who have the computer hardware necessary to run Second Life at its most graphically-intense settings, so raising awareness of the Second Life platform on Steam may have benefits.

However, I see a less positive side to it too. As anyone who has read my previous articles will know, I have a strong sense of wanting to live my ‘second’ life unencumbered by the trappings of my first. And I view this (hopefully optional!) integration with Steam as being yet more example of the lines between SL and RL being blurred. Steam is a real life service, with your real identity (although ‘handles’ / nicknames are allowed). And it strengthens the concept that SL is just yet another service that you create a username and password for.

Having said that, as someone who has played Skyrim a lot (which is a Steam game), I didn’t feel that it was RL ‘me’ playing it – I created a character and advanced her though the game. So perhaps I am unduly concerned here. Perhaps all will work out ok. But I do still have this nagging feeling that entering SL via Steam will make people think it is just another game, or MMPORG and I feel that would miss the point of Second Life being a Virtual World and not a game. Or, certainly how it started out anyway. I’m not so sure what it is now or where it is going.

(All in my opinion, of course)

[With thanks to Inara Pey for her blog article that alerted me to this]

Update

Some interesting (and long) articles that give further insight into the ramifications of this move. Really worth reading if you have the time:

 

Some really interesting points raised by Qarl here. I have to concur with his comments about the new TPV policy and how it stifles innovation; it can’t do otherwise.

It’s funny that he should comment that Linden Lab didn’t see Mesh clothing coming because I was having the same discussion with a friend just recently. The Lab’s response has been very much “but why would you want to do that?” and then bury their head in the sand about it. The fact that pretty much every major clothing Designer is offering Rigged Mesh clothing now is surely a pretty bloody strong indication that sorting the Mesh issue is of prime importance, yet their support of Qarl and the Parametric Deformer project seems lukewarm at best.

I’m still unswayed in my opinion that this is make-or-break for SL.

Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World

Note this is a 4-page piece. Please use the page options at the bottom of the article to page through.

Wednesday June 20th was Mesh Day at SL9B, and featured speakers and presentations on the subject of – you guessed it – mesh. The day saw the auditorium area swamped with people anxious to hear all the news and join in with practical discussions (for future SLB events, it might be worthwhile putting the auditorium at the junction of adjoining regions if hot topics are to be featured as a part of events).

One of the discussions taking place featured Karl Stiefvater, aka Qarl Fizz (formerly Linden). Qarl is the man most closely associated with the mesh parametric deformer project and who was, while working for Linden Lab, both behind the sculpty and a member of the Lab’s early mesh team. He was talking with Saffia Widdershins and taking questions…

View original post 4,705 more words

Oh what a Mesh!

Mesh seems to be all the rage at the moment, despite the fact that Rigged Mesh for clothes simply doesn’t work for many of us. With many designers throwing themselves headlong into Mesh and the awful “standard sizes” to the exclusion of all else, options feel like they are getting limited for those of us who don’t get on with it.

Why doesn’t Rigged Mesh clothing work for me? Well, the primary reason is that I can rarely get it to fit me. I’m a slim, petite avatar of just over 5ft in height, with a ‘real world’ body shape (ie. curves, hips and boobs) and none of the “standard sizes” are anywhere near similar to my body shape and I don’t want to change. I also find that many Rigged Mesh clothes suffer from an issue of being “invisible inside”. If you cam up your skirt or down your top, either you are invisible due to the alpha mask you need to wear, or the clothing itself is invisible due to the designer saving some prim equivalence by making it transparent on the inside. It’s particularly evident on long gowns where you can see it even without camming.

The Parametric Deformer that Qarl Fizz is working on (and that I mentioned in my article “Unencumbered by the trappings of real life”) promises to solve many of these issues and I’m following it with interest, but in the meantime what else is on offer?

I was shopping at GothiCatz today, a store I like very much, and I’m heartened to see that the designer Looloo Beck has adopted a different approach to her use of Mesh. She uses non-rigged Mesh attachments just like in the past she would have used sculpted prims. This has the advantage of being able to resize and move them to get a good fit and can be scripted with traditional resize scripts too. This really works for me and I wish more designers would make use of this hybrid approach rather than using Rigged Mesh. To me it seems like the best of both worlds, or certainly a good compromise.

Presence by GothiCatz, with boots by G-Field.

One area that I am finding Rigged Mesh works well is on boots. I find that boots are much more likely to fit me than clothes, and you are also less likely to suffer from the problems I mentioned earlier. Boots seem to lend themselves better to the strengths of Mesh, bending naturally at joints. Certainly they render non-Mesh overknee boots instantly obsolete. I think one of the reasons they work better is that there is less movement with legs and in less directions. On the torso you get twisting, shearing and bending that cause all sorts of deformations. In contrast, boots experience very little of this. The knee is a very simple joint and even the ankle has limited movement, so the Mesh is subjected to way less deformation.

Guns similarly gain an advantage by being Mesh. I have a number of guns from Breach by Eata Kitty which I buy because they are so beautifully detailed. However, I’m quite petite and it’s often hard to get these guns to look right on me. Their MP7, for example, looks like an Assault Rifle on me despite the fact that in Real Life it is a machine pistol. But their new Mesh pistol “Raven” is fantastic because the Mesh allows it to have a resize script that can scale the entire gun down to fit my small hands. This is simply brilliant and I so wish they would re-do the MP7 the same way. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Breach bring out next.

So, as we suspected, designers are starting to find their feet with Mesh and are starting to innovate as we knew they would. Likewise, we as customers are beginning to understand what works for us and what doesn’t. Personally, I still consider the “standard sizes” to be a dead end and until Qarl’s Parametric Deformer becomes widely adopted I doubt I will be buying much Rigged Mesh clothing (despite regularly trying demos – I haven’t completely given up on it) and I think it will be interesting to see where things go.