Lab launches new mesh avatars

some of the new avatars as they appear in the selection screen of the new user sign-up process
Some of the new avatars as they appear in the selection screen of the new user sign-up process

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.

The "Vampire" avatars - although "Horror" might have been a better title
The “Vampire” avatars – although “Horror” might have been a better title (click to enlarge)

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.

Two of the new mesh avatars; "Alicia" and the werewolf (which is also a pretty good approximation for how I feel before the first mug of coffee for the day...)
Two of the new mesh avatars; “Alicia” and the werewolf (which is also a pretty good approximation for how I feel before the first mug of coffee for the day…)

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.

25 thoughts on “Lab launches new mesh avatars

  1. Yes, you are so right– a no mod shape is going to make a new resident reject the starter avatar.

    And there is something about the skin of these avatar kit that looks like the putty sheen of 2006 starter accounts.

    I saw someone in “Alicia” in person a few days ago and shuddered. I thought what freebie box did she find that skin in and why did she wear it?


  2. WHY?!?!?!

    After all of the things people are asking for, including things to enhance the new user experience, what do they always do? New starter avatars. Which soon become pointless because there are 1000s of other people dressed the same way whichever one you choose.


  3. Non-modifiable shapes are a pretty bad idea. Also, on SL Go, the human-like avatars stretch all the way to 0,0,0. I wonder if SL Go’s viewer is based on a pre-fitted mesh build or if OnLive’s gaming servers are equipped with AMD GPUs that are affected by the AMD 0,0,0 bug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe it’s a matter of the OnLive viewer being built to a pre-fitted mesh code base. As such, the issue there is more with OnLive not updating their viewer code to keep pace with LL’s capabilities, rather than it being an issue with the new avatars per se.


  4. Seems like another fail from Linden Labs :/
    They’ve obviously not bothered to think through the implications.
    Newb says…
    “how do i dress this avatar?” (you can’t),
    “why won’t this hold animation work on my hands?” (you need an original avatar),
    “why won’t this smile animator work?” (you need an original avatar),
    “why don’t these clothes work?” (you need an original avatar),
    “how do i replace this hair?” (you need an original avatar).
    “how do i change my shape?” (you need to get a modifyable shape)

    I wish it was compulsory for Lindens to actually use their product. Then they’d know.


  5. After trying on a couple of the female avatars I couldn’t wait to get back into my own skin, shape, hair, and clothes. As with many things introduced by the Lab I have to wonder “what in the world were they thinking??” An increase in new user intention is not going to be accomplished with these avatars. I’ve been in SL since 2007 and I think the best I can say about these is that the are marginally, and I’m being generous in even saying “marginally”, better than what was available in 2007. It’s clear that no one involved in the design of these things has ever walked around in SL and looked at some of the beautiful skins and shapes that we seasoned residents wear. One half hour in SL, and these devs would be gagging at their own creations. The faces of the two I tried on were “meh” at best. I’m being extremely kind with “meh”. The first hair I tried on, was long and brown. It was flat to my head and looked like hair that hadn’t been washed in weeks. The blonde hair that I tried on next looked like hard papier mache that had been painted yellow. The hair I had in 2007 beat these by a mile.
    I couldn’t do anything with the body and it looked more like an anatomically incorrect store mannequin. The skins had almost no texture. Would it really kill them to include one nice walk with these? Are their heads so deep in the sand that they don’t know that people have been making fun of the “duck walk” for years? Is that how you impress new users and make them want to log in a second time?
    Bottom line: I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of these and can’t imagine anyone who would. IMHO, every LL employee, including upper management, should have to spend a mandatory 20 hours in SL….and not in any official LL areas. Go where the real people go. Open your eyes, LL. Blinders aren’t the way to go.


  6. I half-expect Penny Patton to be here soon pointing out the usual flaws in proportions.

    The clothing components do work as Fitted Mesh clothes for ordinary AVs but I have experienced some weirdness over the still-necessary Alpha Layers. Let me try to explain it.

    1: With the Mesh AV Body, there is really only one Alpha Layer needed, to make invisible the underlying basic avatar body that goes back to year zero. However, the clothing meshes have their own individual Alpha Layers provided, implying an intent for them to be usable with other AVs.

    2: Getting these AVs, the whole thing or components, out of the Library into normal inventory, is a bit of a strange process. Hitherto usual UI methods are not available (some of this may be a Firestorm effect, but it doesn’t seem to be a bug in the latest version). By “not available” I mean they are not options in right-click menus, not even visible but greyed-out.

    3: Once in normal inventory, some options remain unavailable for specific types of component. It is commonplace to need an Alpha Layer for each garment, such as shorts and a top, requiring the Add option to be used. For the Alpha Layers available with the new Avatars, the Add option is not available in the Inventory window. It is available for other components of the new Avatars, and for Alpha Layers from other sources.

    4: This restriction does not apply from the Appearance window, which is otherwise different enough to make creating a new Outfit a little tricky. All the components to be used already need to be in one outfit or another.

    I am not seeing any consistent relationship between permissions, properties, item type, and this inability to add the Alpha Layers by the Inventory window interface. All that seems to matter is whether they are a component of the new AVs.

    Following the Firestorm clean install procedure didn’t make any difference. Even if it is a Firestorm bug which has been lurking in the code since at least last summer, what is special about the specific files affected? If it’s a local overload affecting new library items on the servers, why so precisely just the Alpha Layers? And, especially for something aimed at new players, the way things have to be done differently for items in the Library seems a questionable design choice.

    Incidentally, if you do use an alternative shape, you’re stuck with the same head size, which soon looks bad. Go to Penny Patton for good shapes, and there were better free skins available when I started with SL, five years ago. The Mesh body element of these AVs is, for the humans at least, a questionable benefit.

    It looks to me that the fail has hit the rotary distribution mechanism on this.


    1. Yeah, the clothing can be used elsewhere. My point was really the avies themselves; making the base shape NO MOD = no shape customisation. Ther are other issues around clothing as well, mesh or otherwise.

      I didn’t get to test-out the inventory issues thoroughly – wanted to get an initial report out on the release (also had an SL User Group meeting to attend, which sidetracked my investigations!) – but did notice some weirdness myself when it came to inventory. Was planning to poke at it some more as time allows. suffice it to say some of what I saw matches your observations.


      1. Regarding the inventory, I use the latest, official, LL Viewer, and have found no problems (nothing greyed out and I can click and wear all components seperately), I just tried it to be sure, as usual when I use a default LL Avatar – which I do often – I just drag the folder on my avatar and it changes in one go. OK, sometimes in two goes. * also, thanks for your link to my blog 🙂


        1. I have confirmed the problem with the official viewer and Firestorm. Getting the Alphas into the Inventory section from the Library is a bit of a strange process. Using the Alphas apart from the all-or-nothing approach sees the Add failure. The only way to Add seems to be by working in the Appearance editor.

          With both the LL viewer and Firestorm affected, using different settings and cache folders, I feel a lot of possibilities are ruled out. Using Cool VL Viewer saw no sign of the problem.

          One possibility is that the usual testing doesn’t have users creating and modifying outfits outside the Appearance window. But I have also been sent a log of a conversation with Firestorm support. It looks like nobody on the support team realised how specific the circumstances were, though I have a bias because I did see it happen.


          1. Ah, I see. I am sorry, I only used the ‘wear’ option, which works and not ‘add’ (since I use the complete avatars I have no reason to ‘add’), which is indeed greyed out. Once in an avatar of choice, I create it as an outfit, for easier changing.


  7. Those fitted mesh avatar have an huge potential: the fitmesh clothes are added directly over the naked fitmesh base, without any other alphas. I can also use my usual mesh hair (in most of the cases). These avatars show a level of detail (e.g. the teeth in the zombie avatar) that is way better than the “classic” avatar. I can envision already what a good creator can make now… and if you have met inworld some mesh “statues” already, you can get an idea: think if they were avatars, with the shape freely modifiable and physic.
    Yet this opportunity to give a good first impression and taste to the new residents, coming with this overhaul, is in part wasted:
    – The first thing you notice is the look: beside the zombies and the werewolf, that look rather good, the other avatars look like they are featuring the original SL skin from 2003 (that flat skin that anyone can customize with the sliders), with the difference that it can’t be customized. SL can be way better than this! Just look at the quality of the skins inworld.
    – They are oversized again: for once, starting avatars could have been realistic sized. I meet realistic sized avatars everyday when I go shopping, so it can be done.
    – Duck-walk again. Yes, an integrated AO, as in the werewolf, may be an idea. It would make the customization harder though, and I can use my AO. Anyway a decent starting AO (even as invisible HUD) would give a better first impression to the newcomers. I can’t believe that Linden Lab in 2014 doesn’t have the resources and the technical skills to insert a decent mocap animation for their staring avatars, even just a basic one. It would be even better if they find a way to overhaul the default animations without the need of an animation overrider at all.
    – Fitmesh allow the shape to be adjusted more freely than regular mesh and to use the physic. The base of these avatar is fitmesh as well so I had fun in adding a physic layer and in swapping the shape with my own modifiable shape: the result was quite impressive. A big pro with SL is the freedom in creating and modify anything. LL isn’t showing this with these new avatars, although I can understand that the regular sliders can confuse the newcomers, wondering why many of those sliders have no effects on their mesh avatars.
    Summing up: Linden Lab could have offered a much better first impression with little effort, IMHO. Anyway the potential is huge and I hope to see new well done full fitmesh avatars… possibly with clothes compatible with each other.


    1. “Fitmesh allow the shape to be adjusted more freely than regular mesh and to use the physic”

      The problem being, the default shape for the avatars is NO MOD – ergo, the avatars themselves cannot be adjusted without swapping-out the base shape (since a MOD shape is required to access the shape sliders). So, with reference to the human avatars in particular, by default, the avatar’s form cannot be adjusted.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Read the rest too, please. It was one of the missed opportunities in my list. I wrote that it was quite impressive when I swapped the shape with a modifiable one and I added the physic. And I wrote that “A big pro with SL is the freedom in creating and modify anything. LL isn’t showing this with these new avatars”. Ergo Fitmesh allows the shape to be adjusted more freely than regular mesh and to use the physic, as I said, but they failed to show the potential of Fitmesh.


  8. Yeah I wasn’t too impressed with these avatars myself, unfortunately. I also feel that this may cause a lot of confusion with newbies when they go to update themselves and learn quickly that not everything on the grid is going to easily fit these. I hope this doesn’t cause more chaos but time will tell. Thanks for the informative update.


  9. Comparing the look of these avatars to the previous set of defaults I think this is a huge step forward. the default avatars have never been a replacement for a custom purchased and put together avatar, and I am not sure if these should be either. These newer avatars I believe generally look nicer, and are more properly dressed than the previous defaults and that will allow more people to be comfortable staying with the default for longer while they learn how SL works.

    I have not tried to dress one of these avatars yet using items from my wardrobe, so I cannot speak to how well they work. I do think that the myriad of new user welcome areas, freebie palaces and other such places that fill the destination guide now need to be replaced with places that take the time to update their supply of freebies with newer mesh items that will work with these new avatars. The lab should push these things forward, and the grid should adapt. Does anyone really want Freebie Galaxy to still be the first stop shop for new avis 5 years from now?


    1. I tried to dress them. The problem is that these avatars are inconsistent even with each other: some of their clothes fit with other mesh starting avatars, but some don’t (e.g. Lucy dress doesn’t fit in Alicia body). I’d like that these avatars have clothes compatible with each other at least.


  10. i dunno, why assume that the starter avatar need last any more than the first few days or weeks, depending on how quickly people learn and how motivated they are to learn and to personalize their look? as for what is confusing, i think we all forgot how much we know now and take for granted. but go ahead, to refresh your memory about what is confusing for newbs, sign up your younger cousin or your granny and start explaining to make sure to put shoes on before boots, pants under dresses, things called jackets aren’t necessarily jackets, eye make up is a tattoo you wear on your face and so on. really i could write another 500 words without pause. If a wear me mesh with no bake fail looks good enough that they are not ashamed to leave the welcome area and 3 days later or 3 months later or maybe for the super advanced, 3 hours later they ditch it in favor of a DIY look based on the default av, then i still say WELL DONE LL!!! applause applause! keep the ideas and the innovations coming. we know it’s a work in progress.


  11. A lot of comment on the new avatars in various places.

    The proportions though, are finally good. Properly human. And they’re closer to human height I gather. I hear the taller female is only 6-feet tall.

    Put one on. Notice how far your arms go down the hips on them. Then go back to a ‘classic avatar’ as they are now being called and look at the same thing.

    That will help people trying to improve their shape – try to copy the same length on your “classic” avatar… While you can’t, the closer you can get, the more natural you’ll start to feel (but at first it will look weird… takes a day or two to get used to).

    It would be nice if the shapes for the new ones were mod so this wouldn’t be a guessing game. And I hear that they were supposed to be mod, so this will be fixed soon.

    I’ll hold my peace on other criticisms.


  12. Where is Eloh Elliot?

    I could make a better starter AV with an Eloh Elliot skin, one of the Penny Patton Vitruvian Shapes, and a quick trawl through the Discount section at Rag Dollz. That would mean a Victorian/Steampunk/Wild West woman, but at least it wouldn’t be another damned Vampire.

    Point is. they could have had better-looking starter AVs with almost none of the changes of the last few years needed. Mesh would be nice for things such as boots, and Alpha layers instead of invisprims, but most of the problem is the lack of style. the lack of an eye for fashion.

    Second Life is produced by Sheldons. Maybe one day they will realise just how geekish the fashion process is: it’s full of arcane tech stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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