Lab launches Creatorverse

Update, February 19th, 2014: Linden Lab have discontinued Creatorverse. Therefore, links in this article have been removed.

Thursday November 1st, 2012 Linden Research Inc has officially announced the launch of Creatorverse for the Apple iPad. Announcing the launch, the Press Release reads in part:

Creatorverse is a two-dimensional shared creative space, a digital canvas on which you can build unique creations, set them in motion, and share them with the world to enjoy and remix. You become an inventor as you draw, stretch, shape, and color your creations, and then add joints, forces, motors, teleporters, and inputs that change how your inventions come to life on the screen. You can save your inventions locally or share them to the cloud for other users to enjoy and remix into their own unique creations. From the simplest bouncing ball to a car, a rocket, a pinball game or a beautiful piece of interactive art, the possibilities for creativity are endless with Creatorverse.

Sharing your creations – seen as one of the attentions for Creatorverse (image: Linden Research Inc.)

Interestingly, and prehaps learning from their experience with Patterns, Linden Lab have also launched a series of YouTube tutorial videos for Creatorverse in their own dedicated channel, some of which are also displayed on the Creatorverse website.

Given that Patterns did give some people initial issues with getting started, this may not be a bad idea, depending upon how complicated and capable the tools within Creatorverse are. As it stands, topics for the videos cover input to the screen, how to make various joints – distance, wheel, weld, etc., – howe to apply forces to objects, and so on; a total of 14 videos in total at the moment.

As Patterns users are being encouraged to upload videos of their activities within the Patterns universe, it’ll be interesting to see if / how users of Creatorverse may do likewise – and whether they will be encouraged to do so.

As with Patterns, the Creatorverse website is focused on community, with a community / forums area where topics can be raised, ideas exchanged, suggestions made and questions asked / answered. With Patterns, the forum area has been well received and quite well used; one assumes the same will happen with Creatorverse should it prove popular.

The ability to share creations is a major part of Creatorverse, and it is interesting to note that currently, there appears to be no dedicated area on the website for viewing other people’s creations. As the SHARE button is part and parcel of the Creatorverse application, one assumes that sharing and browsing creations must be handled purely from within the application itself. If so, it will again be interesting to see if a preview capability will be added to the website should there prove to be a demand for it.

Creatorverse is available at $4.99 in the Apple App Store. Unlike Patterns, this is a full release of the product, not an alpha or Genesis release, and so technically marks the first “full” release of a product by the company outside of Second Life – the Lab has stated that Patterns will not be released as a “full” version until late 2013.

Currently, Creatorverse runs only on the iPad, but it may well be made available on other platforms in the future – at least one recent interview with Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble has hinted at Creatorverse also being made available for the PC and Mac, and one assumes that if this is the case, an Android version may also be made available at some point.

Sadly, no reviews of Creatorverse are likely to appear on these pages, as I am not an Apple user.

Update: read one of the first reviews of Creatorverse from 148app.

SL Project news week 44/3: mesh deformer

Testing is continuing with the latest release of the Mesh Deformer project viewer, which can be used to deform mesh items to either default or custom human shapes. While the pool of test items remains small, people appear to be testing using their own creations, with at least some feedback being given to the JIRA (STORM-1716), which remains open to comment. If you are testing the deformer using the latest project viewer, please be sure to provide feedback on your results – be they with default shapes or custom shapes – to the JIRA.

Some problems with breast fittings might be down to an incompatibility between Avastar and the viewer, which is currently being corrected

Most of the results obtained to date appear to be satisfactory, although some issues still remain with custom shapes. Darien Caldwell, working with Gaia Clary, has identified one issue which exists specifically with the Avastar add-in for Blender co-produced by Gaia.

Avastar is a Blender add-on for Second Life mesh creators and animators which provides a wide range of capabilities, including (for mesh creation): SL shape import into Blender, SL shape sliders support, support for attachment bones, and so on.

The issue has been that Avastar’s sliders have been based on a scale of 1-100, whereas the viewer’s sliders operate on a scale of 0-100 , leading to some scale miscalculations within Avastar which in turn have led to issues with mesh fitting over body parts such as breasts. According to Darien Caldwell, she and Gaia now have this “pretty well nailed” and an update to correct Avastar will apparently be out shortly (Update: please see Magus Freston’s comments at the end of this article).

This still leaves the broader deformation issue, as reported recently, which is still being looked into, and awaiting some feedback from Qarl.

Other issues outside of these which have arisen with the deformer have been largely the result of unrealistic expectations – that it will, for example, mimic facial morphs or hand movements closely or some changes to feet. However, in these situations, it is important to remember that the deformer was never developed to deal with these, as it works off the avatar’s bone structure, and facial features and hands don not have any bone structure within the avatar associated with them.

Time Frame for the Deformer

While progress with the deformer continues to look good, there remains no ETA as to when the code will appear in the release version of the official SL viewer.

The major reason for this is the ongoing problems with the Beta release channel for the viewer (of which more in the next update for this week!). As it stands, the deformer is positioned roughly at the back of the queue of releases which are being held as LL work to resolve the current crash issues with the Beta viewer. This means that, at least until the Beta issues are resolved, there is no official ETA for the deformer code reaching the release viewer. However, the latest revisions are starting to be incorporated into some TPVs.

In the meantime, and if you have been testing the project viewer, please remember to give feedback via the JIRA.

Performance Concern

While it is not actually an issue with the deformer per se, commenting at the Content Creation User Group on Monday 29th October, Siana Gearz highlighted a potential problem with mesh clothing utilising the deformer and avatar physics.

The concern is that the deformer uses the same morph-based schema as is used by the avatar physics system. This means that the GPU has to do a lot of additional calculations for the polygons in an item of mesh clothing to simulate movement (such as “bouncing boobs”) when avatar physics are in use. This obviously leads to a performance hit. So long as the polygon count in clothing is kept low, the impact is minimal, but the concern is that clothing build using high polygon counts to provide detail could have a larger impact on the viewer.

One possible way for this to be avoided, should it become an issue, is for clothing makers to optimise their mesh clothing with lower poly counts – and the forthcoming materials processing capabilities should go a long way towards helping with this.

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