The major topic of conversation during the course of the week has been the Lab’s announcement that they have released a new project viewer which can be used to make suitably rigged mesh garments deform to match an avatars shape as it is adjusted using the viewer Edit Shape sliders. It does so by using a modified version of the avatar skeleton and collision bones, as I was able to preview just before the project viewer was launched.
Since the Lab’s announcement, the response from various sections of the community have been mixed. Some have welcomed the new with open arms; some have questioned the overall flexibility of the solution compared to others, some have regretted the “loss” of the deformer and some have reacted in outright hostility towards the Lab.
Several people have asked me – this seems like the best place to answer.
LL’s assessment here is mostly good. In almost all situations, the simplest solution is the best one – and collision bones are indeed MUCH simpler than the mesh deformer. As I see it, collision bones have two downsides: 1) they are substantially harder to use for the person creating the garment and 2) probably don’t track as well to the avatar shape.
In the end, the evaluation must be made by the content creators who use the tool.
I will reiterate that the two-year delay and refusal to communicate are unacceptable.
This would seem to be a reasonable assessment. The use of collision bones is technically easier and, as noted elsewhere, is less reliant upon a large amount of code being added to the viewer which then needs to be managed and maintained as the viewer evolves, but it does have some drawbacks.
Commenting further on the subject in the Metareality podcast on Friday November 22nd, Karl added:
It [the avatar skeleton] already had a bunch of these bones in it for collisions. I have never, ever notices that someone shoots a bullet at me, and my avatar is fat, it actually hits me as if I were fat … It’s incredible that they put that kind of detail into it ten years ago. But, OK, they did. So my feeling – just to head-off any drama – is that it’s a nice solution. It is definitely a simpler solution, which is preferred in all software engineering, and probably all of life.
He went on to reiterate the fact that a downside of the approach is that it can making creating and rigging mesh garments harder, although as William Reed Seal-Foss observed:
Well, speaking from an artistic standpoint … and knowing how to rig, that’s already not fun, and it’ll make it more not fun, but it’s not going to be like you have to learn to do something new.
Pressed on the matter, Karl reconfirmed that while the Fitted Mesh approach may have weaknesses, he does feel that it is a good solution, noting, “Obviously, I’m invested with the one that we did, but this is good. This is good,” before also noting that as a technically simpler approach, Fitted Mesh is likely to hold-up better over time when compared to the deformer.
This still leaves the question as to whether personality may have played a part in the Lab’s decision. In the podcast, Kimberley asks Karl outright if he believes this to be the case, and he indicates that he believes so, stating, “I heard back from two different people inside the lab that told me that Linden Lab would never accept my code.” One would very much hope that matters weren’t influenced on the basis of personality; but the fact that the Lab previously rejected code from Karl for reasons which appeared tenuous at the time, would seem to be point to there being an issue of some description.
The debate over the pros and cons of each system will doubtless carry on in some quarters, as will the theories as to why one was selected over the other. In the meantime, feedback on the Fitted Mesh viewer is being generated and the Lab is working on updates. In terms of the technical aspects / limitations of the system, it remains to be seen how they may impact things. As it is, the approach has arguably been used to good effect by the likes of Redgrave and other designers and has proven popular among consumers. Hopefully the same will prove to be the case as this solution proceeds through to a release status and as it is adopted by third-party viewers.
- Making Mesh Garments Fit Better – Linden Lab
- Lab looks to make mesh garments fit better with the Fitted Mesh project viewer
- Liquid Mesh: looking from all sides – August 2012
- Liquid Mesh: An assessment by Gaia Clary, August 2012