Sunday, July 31, 2011

#SL profiles: the start of something great, i want it to be that something great NOW!


Its Social profile madness on the internet at the moment with Google+ trying to force everyone to consolidate their 10 years worth of Pseudonyms into one marketable identity. Meanwhile for us ol d Second Life users have been presented with the brand spanking new SL Social Profiles and while this is seen as the start of something great i want it to be that something great NOW.

As it stands it is simply a shout box that my friends have quickly tired of already. Hopefully they are planning to add a few obvious features.

Things i'd like to see changed/ added….

1. Share/Re-tweet friends messages:  part of the huge appeal about social networking is sharing things, and if this feed is to be any different from group chat or notifications then we should be allowed to share stuff posted by our friends to help promote what we love about SL. It seems a real crazy not to be able to do this, don't you think?

2. Be able to 'Love' and 'comment' on' places in the destination guide instead of the current Facebook options.

3. Allow us to 'Love' or simpley share items we like or have bought on marketplace on the feed.

4. See our group notifications in the feed notifications as well.

5. In notifications AND emails, give us a couple lines of the messages, allow us to see what was said without having to go to the feed page and log in only to find someone posted a smiley face in reply to something!

6. Support OSX Lion

I hope they don't spend to long before adding these features. I want to start sharing my fun and games with my friends and others across the grid ASAP.

Monday, July 25, 2011

#SL Goonies and the Destruction of the Mega MEGA Death Ray

It was a peaceful day at Escapades island until a new message from the Grand Master came through on the message interceptor machine. The Goonies gathered at the club house to listen to the message....

"GLORB, Lets not bother with the Mega Death Ray, instead lets install the Thermowosulator into the mega MEGA death ray, lets rid ourselves of the Goonies ONCE AND FOR ALL MWHAHAHHAAH"

The Goonies were not best pleased with the prospect of being blown up by a mega MEGA death ray so they hatched a plan to go underground to the secret base, find the Thermalwosulator and destroy it before it was installed......




Is it right to compare Mesh with Prim objects? #SLmesh #SL


I'm being asked by many people including Lindens about comparing Mesh objects with Prim objects. The more that i've learnt about making Mesh, the more I've come to realise that comparing is very difficult, i'm starting to wonder if you can actually compare Mesh with Prim objects.

From the start the idea was to create  objects that cost less prims and yet are more detailed than a PRIM version, after all Mesh is supposed to be more efficient and better than Prims right? well yes and no…

The Prim is a simple creature. It has a set shape, set amount of sides, set numerical count. You rez one prim, and the land counts it as 1. You link it to another prim and they count as a 2 prim object. The world is built on the safe knowledge that everything is made of prims. Even sculpts are just smoothed off prims.

Mesh on the other hand is a wyrd creature compared to the familiar prim. It does not have a set shape, does not have a set numerical count. You rez a mesh and the viewer tries to calculate a Prim Equivalence (PE) so it can conform to the current system and this PE is effected by a number of factors - Size, Physical Weight, Number of Textures or wether it has a script inside. 

If you Link two Mesh together the PE may increase or decrease depending on factors of the linked mesh. If you link a normal PRIM to a mesh, it may not even seem to count towards the Mesh's PE.

A Mesh Objects PE is not set in stone either. You could have an object made with 5 Prims and have a Mesh version that comes in at 4 PE, if you enlarge the Mesh version by a metre or so, it's PE could jump to 8 PE. The Bigger your mesh the more PE it costs. It's a bit confusing and really kills off mesh for large scale use not to mention griefing potential of an object that takes up prim count when enlarging.

Physics weight also is impossible to compare to Prims as it is not a set thing. For example i have an Airship which is 24 prims. I left it at 24 because i wanted as many people as i could to sit on it and Physical Vehicles only allow 30 Prims to move. Each Prim has a physical weight of 1, each avatar has a physical weight of 1, this is how it's always been from the start, simples.



With Mesh though you have the ability to set the Mesh Physics to your desired shape and size and the Physics weight is calculated from that. I built my Mesh version of my Airship and i added some extra detail and textured to the best of my ability. There is NO denying that the New Mesh airship is far more detailed and better textured than the Prim/sculpty version. Yet it calculated to being 38 PE compared to the 24 prims. 'Oh No, its far to many prims to be a physical Vehicle! ' , actually NO, because although the 24 Prim Airship has a physical weight of 24, the 38 PE mesh Airship has a Physical weight of just 5!. Unfortunately Land counts the PE so we will see Physical Vehicles with a PE way above the standard 30 Prims, so if you don't have a lot more than 30 prims left on your land, you can expect problems with Mesh Vehicles Crossing.

People will understandably compare Mesh objects to Prims based on Prim count alone and i think this is a bad habit to get into. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A list of things I had to learn in order to create #SLMesh objects


I've been learning how to create Mesh objects for a couple months now and by jove it's not easy. 
The creative side is ok, it's just the technical side is SO fragmented and this is NOT Linden Labs fault. The 3D modelling world as a whole is a nerdy one and is no way in a position for mass uptake by the general public.

You have major 3D package software that i cant afford to use, so cant comment on wether Z-brush, 3Dstudio max or what ever else has a more complete and user friendly work flow. For the Mac there is also cheaper solutions such as Silo and AC3D to consider but the majority of newbs to Mesh will no doubt find their way to Blenderas its FREE.

The problem with Blender though is its currently very slowly going through a transition of being ridiculously lousy with UI (2.49) to a more intuitive easy to use UI (2.5). I found it easier to get to grips with Blender 2.5, thats the whole point of Blender 2.5 but when it comes to using it for making SL Mesh you will soon discover vital features that make Mesh easier and more efficient are strewn between the two version of Blender making it a very frustrating experience to learn. Although it is free and they guys working on it are doing it out of their own pockets and through donations so Kudos for them really....... just wish they worked quicker to implement the missing features :-p

I have found that to make a good prim efficient Mesh for SL, i have to use multiple applications, porting from one to the other. These 3D apps do not seem to have all in one. Some Like Silo don't even support the Collada format, others lack Poly reduction, and whats worst is that these programs have been around for years. 

So anyway, if you are thinking of making Mesh in Second life, i have made a list of subjects i've had to learn regardless of which 3D software i've been using.

1. Learn how to create Mesh objects, learn about extrude, vertices, faces, edges and manipulating them.

2. Learn about subdividing and modifying.

3. learn about unwrapping UV's, texturing & multiple faces.

4. Learn about Levels Of Detail (LOD) and how to decimate/reduce faces on your model.

5. Learn how to weight your Mesh and rig it for wearing.

6. Learn about Mesh Physics and how to apply it to your mesh.

7. Learn How to use the SL Mesh Uploader and how it deals with LOD and Physics

8. Learn how to keep Prim Equivalence LOW. (not as easy as you may think)


Lets not delude any SL users here, it's not as simple as rezzing a prim, texturing and linking , you really do have to learn 3D video game modelling. There are university courses lasting two years teaching the stuff you have to learn here. But there are some amazing talented and generous Users in SL who have given me a lot of help and advice to learn on the SL Forums. 

Those who think Mesh would replace the old Plywood Prim are utterly mistaken. Even Scultpies and Mega prims will be useful in the fight for prim reduction since Mesh Prim equivalence will increase along with a Meshes size.

The world of the Tiny will be cost a lot less than full sized Avatars.

So give Mesh a go, and do so now before it goes onto the main grid, as right  now you dont have to pay for mistakes ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Short Story: Game Of Social Thrones #SL

Hundreds of years ago great empires were founded on simple communities. One such Kingdom was that of Second Life. 

As the Kingdom crew it's leaders built a wall around the Kingdom shutting it off from the rest of the land. Its people watched from the walls as other kingdoms such as Facebook and Google+ grew large and fat on their freedom to share and communicate.

The people of the Kingdom of Second Life yearned to be seen and share what they created just as easy as those in the Google+ and Facebook kingdoms. They turned to their Humble Leader and pleaded

"PLEASE your greatness, pull down the walls, grant us the freedom to share our work and be seen by all, reduce the Land Taxes, set us free!"

And the Humble Leader of the Kingdom of Second Life set forth to bring them what they wanted.

But over the walls the truth of the freedoms of the Facebook and Google+ kingdoms slowly came to light. For the Kingdoms to grant such freedom came at a price. They had allied themselves with the Marketing Empire to the North who gave them gold and in return the Kingdoms of Facebook and Google+ would tell their people they are free to do what they wanted.

But in truth the people were slaves. What ever they did and what ever they shared was exchanged for more gold for the Kingdoms Leaders and the people had no choice for they could not see what was happening.

Gradually the People were labeled and placed in special parts of the Kingdoms. They eat the food only presented for them, they learnt only what was told and shown to them, and they only talked to those who lived in their part of the Kingdom.

From the walls of the Kingdom of Second Life the people started to realise just what they had as the Marketing Empire could not see past the great walls. And it was at that time the Great Humble Leader sent word to the Marketing Empire to discuss an alliance that would bring all that the peoples of Facebook and Google+ had. After all, this was what the People of Second lIfe had pleaded for?

Those who knew the truth took it upon themselves to sabotage the meeting to stop the alliance being made. The Marketing Empire reacted to the sabotage with anger at the Kingdom of Second Life

"You shall be cast aside, and left to rot while the rest of the land grows stronger and stronger under our rule and influence!" 

But what the empire did not understand was just how loyal to the Kingdom it's people were, how proud of what they had achieved and how important their freedom to be who or what ever they chose and not to become labeled for the Marketing Empires targeting.

And so it came to be known that the Great wall of the Kingdom of Second Life was not stopping the people from being seen outside, it was protecting them from those outside who seeked to take away their freedom. 

An alliance was struck with the Order of the Twitter allowing The people of Second Life to send anonymous messages to other growing communities who fought against the Empire. The Second Life Kingdom became a refuge for those who escaped the Kingdoms of Facebook and Google+ and wanted a life where they were not pursued by Marketing Empire. The Taxes may still be high, but then my child, thats the price we pay for our freedom from the Empire……


Friday, July 01, 2011

The Mind Boggles #SL profiles and augmented virtual reality


I know its apparently not even far along enough to call a BETA, but almost every hardcore SL user has by now seen the my-demo Second Life Facebook parody. I hopelessly tried to hold back my opinions of the new Social Profiles but i looked at it, tried it, communicated to my friends with it and ended up with one simple question… WHY COPY FACEBOOK MODEL AND NOT TWITTER? So here i rant again.... 

TEE HEE you cant see me, cos i'm hiding behind the big white square


I'm excited by new ways to communicate in SL. Since viewer2 was released i've found it impossible to keep up with the cluttered notifications system that pops up briefly in the dark corner then disappears into the messy tiny box that caps at +99.

The new Friends Feed at the moment is a web only affair. In other words you can only access it via the web based profiles that appears slowly in the built in Web viewer. Its basically a website that is laid over the top of your virtual world experience. 

In the Hype days of SL people used to think SL would lead to a 3D internet. 2D websites would be transformed into 3D spaces and it would change how we shopped online. Instead we saw the mobile market blow into the next revolution and along with that came augmented reality, bringing a sort of virtual world experience to the real world. In the mean time the 3D internet is still ways off. Perhaps the 3D internet will derive from augmented reality, or maybe it will come from Virtual worlds like SL, or maybe it'll happen when the two some how collide.

SL can only get to that stage if it keeps being innovative and pushing how we interact and communicate, because i believe virtual world UI and Augmented reality UI are closely linked.



Back to the Social Profiles. I can understand the use of the Web Based overlay for stuff like search, you spend a fare amount of concentration to siv through the results. But for viewing notifications and sending messages i find the Facebook model a mind boggling choice. 

I'm only surprised because the Twitter microblogging model seemed an obvious choice to incorporate into the Side/Slide bar. Who knows, maybe the Viewer2 code monkies are working to implement this as i rant and maybe JUST MAYBE the web profiles friends feed is just a way to keep up to speed with whats going on inworld while im out with only my iPad at hand.