Mesh Deformer and Fitted Mesh
The future of mesh garments / wearables created using the now SL-defunct mesh deformer was the subject of some discussion at the Open-source Contributions meeting on Wednesday 11th December. While the deformer was never officially adopted by the Lab for use within Second Life, it was available in various test and experimental viewers, and the code could also be included in self-compiled viewers if people knew how.
This means that there are garments within Second Life that were created and uploaded for / with the deformer code, and which can resize with viewers using that code. However, as is the case with Fitted Mesh, the clothing would not deform when using a viewer without the requisite code. The same will be true once the Fitted Mesh updates reach a release candidate status and start to be more widely adopted: while Fitted Mesh (and Liquid Mesh) garments, etc. will deform to an avatar’s shape, items created using the mesh deformer will not; they will continue to behave like any other rigged mesh item.
This likely means that as the Fitted Mesh code does become more widely adopted, people will stop using any garments / attachables created using the deformer code, and the availability of such items in SL and on the SL marketplace will decline over time.
Whether or not this means deformer-based items will vanish from people’s inventories is something only time will tell. From the Lab’s perspective, the work involved in trying to pro-actively determine a method of identifying assets using the deformer code and removing them from the asset servers / inventories isn’t likely to be worth the end result. Therefore anyone with “old” mesh deformer garments and attachables will probably retain them until they opt to delete them from their inventory.
It appears unlikely that viewers using the deformer code will be pro-actively blocked from SL. What is likely to happen is that the code simply will not be formally adopted by those variants of TPVs which do not connect to any other grid than Second Life. However, this does leave a further interesting question as to the future of the mesh deformer, which has potentially seen far wider use in OpenSim communities than Second Life. While it would seem likely OpenSim will adopt the viewer-side changes required to enable Fitted Mesh (at least in the majority of cases), at this point in time, it is not clear whether the mesh deformer will be entirely abandoned. Whether there will be sufficient pressure within OpenSim for the deformer code to remain in use, and whether TPVs will feel obliged to incorporate the deformer into their viewers / OpenSim variants of their viewers as a result, remains to be seen. Currently, the only grid which has any kind of significant investment in the deformer is InWorldz, which provided funds for the code to be further enhanced and adopted it into their dedicated viewer in July 2013.
Materials and Numbers
Statistics are always a hard thing to determine. Back in the day, there was much controversy over figures released as to the adoption of mesh within SL following its deployment. The figures offered-up by the Lab at the time were vague enough that they could be taken to mean that mesh was either being rapidly adopted, or was seeing very slow growth (with the reality lying somewhere in between). This was not an attempt by the Lab to fudge issues at the time; it simply underlined the fact that numbers aren’t always the best means of trying to quantify something, so it’s perhaps better to allow the passage of time to speak for itself.
The most recent figures for materials suggest that over half of the regions in SL now have at least one materials-enabled item within them, and around 10% of avatars apparently utilise at least one materials-enabled item. Again, these are figures that are likely to be interpreted either way, depending on how people look upon materials as a whole. Certainly, the term “object” is sufficiently vague so as to be pretty worthless as am objective yardstick, as it likely covers everything from an individual prim through to entire linksets, which leads to a huge variance in the visibility of objects using materials. On a personal note, I can only say I’ve made extensive use of materials in my house, and am more than pleased with the results.
Upcoming Code Contributions
There are a number of third-party code contributions in development for the SL viewer, some of which I’ve previously reported upon, and which are now progressing towards a point where they may well have public visibility through the likes of a release candidate in the new year.
STORM-1981 and STORM-1831
STORM-1981, contributed by Jonathan Yap, is intended to change the behaviour of tracking beacons to help make locating items in a region somewhat easier (e.g. locating lost items or scripted objects which are causing issues, etc.). Under these changes:
- Beacons would begin at a height of 0 metres and extend up to the maximum unassisted flight ceiling (5,020 metres)
- The beacon colour will be blue from 0 metres to the base height of the object being tracked, and red from 5,020 metres down to the height of the object being tracked
- Users can optionally set the beacon to pulse towards the target object using the CheesyBeacon debug setting (Advanced->Highlighting). The blue beacon will pulse up towards the object, the red beacon will pulse down towards the object.
STORM-1831 covers the work being undertaken by Ima Mechanic, with assistance from Oz Linden, to improve syntax highlighting in the viewer’s LSL editor by allowing the viewer to obtain the information required for syntax highlighting directly from the simulator the viewer is connected to. This should eliminate issues with the current manually updated files used to manage syntax highlighting falling out-of-synch with new LSL syntax as new functions and parameters, etc., are added. Folded-in to this work should also be a change to the source code text allowance in the viewer’s LSL editor, increasing it from the current 65,000 characters to around 256,000.
The server-side cap updates required for both STORM-68 and STORM-1831 have been combined and passed into the simulator release stream, and while it is unclear as to when the cap updates will reach a server-side release candidate package, their progress is being tracked. Obviously, both STORM-1981 and STORM-1831 require viewer-side updates as well, and these will hopefully appear in viewer release candidate form once the server-side updates are sufficiently deployed.
A number of TPVs include the ability to specify the default permissions applied to a new prim object (cube, cylinder, torus, etc.) on creation. STORM-68 aims to add a similar capability to the LL viewer (and which will quite possibly supersede the capability in TPVs once implemented). This work is again coming from Jonathan Yap, although it requires server-side updates, which Andrew Linden has been taking care of. However, this work has hit some problems in viewer / server interactions, which may be down to timing issues between requests and acknowledgements being sent between the viewer and the simulator and vice-versa. As such, further testing is required, so it’s possible this work might take a little longer to appear in the new year.