I’ll be honest and admit that I hadn’t realised that there was a particular issue with clothing that needed any clarification; but I’m also biased in that I’ve been around SL long enough and reporting on it, that understanding the various clothing types doesn’t actually present me with a problem. However, I can understand a new arrival being confused by terms such as “system clothing” or “clothing layers”, and “mesh clothing”, “fitted mesh clothing”, “rigged mesh clothing” and so on, and wondering what the heck it is all about and where the differences lie.
The blog post is aimed at content creators, and is intended to encourage them to define the clothing they produce in terms of three avatar types, and to label their clothing accordingly with icons.
However, to get a clearer understanding of what is being proposed, it is perhaps best to refer to the Knowledge Base article, which provides far more comprehensive information.
Essentially, it has been decided that clothing should be defined in terms of avatar categories. These are defined by the Lab as:
- Classic – Classic avatars are the original default Second Life avatars. They have a modifiable humanoid shape, and can wear clothing in the form of textures and attachments added to that shape. Most of a classic avatar’s appearance and clothing can be modified by pressing the Appearance button in the Second Life Viewer, but cannot take advantage of newer graphical features such as normal and specular maps.
- Standard mesh – A standard mesh avatar is a classic avatar that is wearing a rigged mesh attachment, usually a full-body avatar, and whose classic body is hidden by a full body alpha mask. It is classified as “standard” if it was created using the standard fitted mesh model available on the Second Life wiki.
- Custom/branded – A custom avatar is a classic avatar that is hidden by a full body alpha mask and is wearing a customized rigged mesh attachment or attachments that otherwise replace the classic avatar body. These avatars can come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and each model typically requires clothing specifically designed to work with such an avatar.
Hints to help a consumer determine what category of avatar they are using are also provided,
In addition, the Lab is asking that creators define their clothing as one of four types in order to indicate which categories of avatar it is most likely to be compatible with:
- Classic only – The “layer-based” textured clothing applied directly to classic avatars. This clothing type only displays properly on classic avatars and is rendered completely invisible by the alpha mask worn by most mesh avatars.
- Mesh only – An attachment that is designed to appear as clothing on a standard mesh avatar. It may appear to be a layer-based texture, but does not work properly on classic avatars. Mesh only clothing must be created outside Second Life in a 3D modeling tool.
- Classic/Mesh – Attachments primarily designed for standard mesh avatars that can be made to work on a classic avatar. In order to be classified as classic/mesh, the clothing must include an appropriate alpha mask designed to hide the affected parts of a classic avatar.
- Branded – A catch-all term meant to encompass the many possible custom avatar designs. Such avatars can typically only wear clothing specifically designed for that specific avatar; therefore each custom designed avatar and its compatible clothing may be considered a “brand”. Likewise, clothing designed for a custom avatar shape should not be expected to work properly with classic or standard mesh avatars, or even other custom avatars.
In order to help shoppers find clothing that properly fits their avatars, Merchants are additionally being asked to use one of two label images to use when advertising their clothes, and to update any clothing they have listed on the SL Marketplace so that it is defined by one of the three avatar categories (so that it is defined as being compatible with Classic Avatars or Mesh Avatars or, in the case of a specific custom avatar, it is defined by the avatar’s brand name.
The two logos the Lab are requesting content creators use to denote their clothing are:
Note these are copyrighted stock images, requiring the use of the label, “© Depositphotos.com/i3alda” with each.
Further details can be obtained directly from the Knowledge Base article, which also includes notes on why custom avatar types should ideally have a unique brand associated with them.
The new definitions do appear be to perhaps as confusing as the current terminology (“system”, “fitted mesh”, etc.), as such it will be interesting to see the response to this proposal / request, and how well things work in practice.