Update May 16th (2): Following a tweet I made directed at Ebbe Altberg on the NO MOD nature of the base avatar shapes, he responded with the following:
My apologies for taking a while to post this. My ISP and WordPress have a periodic battle in which my access to this blog is at best limited. The battle was rejoined today, leaving me with severe access issues.
Update May 16th (1): While there are limitations with the new mesh avatars, they can also look very good as photographic models, with suitable inventory items and windlight settings. Caitlin Tobias demonstrates this with a series of very eye-catching images, which are well-worth a look at.
On Thursday May 15th, Linden Lab launched their line of new mesh avatars. In all, 24 avatars are were made available, both for new users signing-up to Second Life, and through the Avatar Selector for those already using SL.
The blog post announcing the new avatars reads in part:
Today, we’re updating Second Life’s default avatar options with 24 brand new mesh avatars. You may have spotted a sneak peek at a few of these as Lindens tried them out recently, and starting today, you can start using them yourself!
These avatars are designed to give new users a more appealing set of choices as they start their time in Second Life. Based on the most popular avatars picked at registration, these new options are much better-looking and take advantage of technology incorporated into Second Life over the past year (like fitted mesh and materials) for a more modern feel.
Currently, the avatars are largely limited to human forms, but are ethnically diverse. I use the terms “largely” and “human forms” as twelve of the new avatars are listed under the “Vampire” heading – although given one looks a tad more Lycan than vampiric, another is more demon than anything, and two have a decidedly zombie look to them, I’ve perhaps have gone for “Horror” to describe this set of avatars.
Being mesh, there are inevitably some caveats around the new avatars. Facial expressions, for example, are fixed, and old-style system clothing won’t work with them and they are NO MOD – or at least the four I tried all were. This means you cannot edit the shape using the sliders without swapping the base shape for something which is MOD.
Two of the avatars – the demon and the Lycan – come with AOs, and it’s shame a little effect wasn’t put into providing the rest with a starter AO, if only to get rid of the newbie duck walk. While the latter is a lot better than it once was, it’s still pretty ugly to see.
In terms of overall looks, the avatars are a mixed bag. That they may have been designed to “take advantage of technology incorporated into Second Life …. (like fitted mesh…)” seems to be something of non-sequitur for new users, given they are NO MOD, and thus require the base shape swapping out to allow for some degree of shape customisation, as mentioned above. While this isn’t a major issue per se, it still might lead to some confusion among newbies as to way they can’t customise the shape, height, etc., of their avatar while others can.
For my part, I confess there’s nothing within this set which would divert me away from my current avatar and her look, and I’d say that overall, the avatars may well be mesh, but they’re not particularly attractive for being so.