the Dolphin Viewer is not going anywhere.

I’m sure that by now a lot of rumours and white noise is flying around after Ebbe Altberg basically announced at a TPV meeting that the Lab is working on “the next big thing” to come.

Especially in this thread on SLU a lot of people sound as if the Lab is going to pull the plug on SL “any time now”.

To that I only say, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.”

From what I understand from what Ebbe actually said at the TPV meeting, SL is here to stay for at least several more years, I mean come on, first beta late next year, that means public availability as a finished product not until 4-5 years from now… and he says even then they will keep SL around as long as it makes them money.

What this means for The Dolphin Viewer is pretty obvious to me: I’ll be working on it just as before (which means way too slow to be proud about it). Heh, if y’all have a problem with my working speeds, chip in some $ so that I can have a laptop that actually has enough power to work on building viewers when I’m travelling 🙂

That being said… “This is the end of Second Life” has been a constant cry to be heard in certain forums for the last five years at least, and guess what, my account still works, so… guess what, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the lights go dark.

Mesh myths debunked

So it’s “the day” now. Linden Lab has released mesh, and any number of people are 100% sure that mesh will bring back all those people who have quit SL in disgust, will make everyone else quit, will make your frame rate go up and down at the same time, and will make coffee while eating your kittens.

I’ve had a good close look at what mesh actually means, how it works, how it is created, and am now trying to make a few things clear.

  1. Myth: Mesh will replace sculpties for in-world objectsNo, not really. What mesh will do is add another tool to the creator’s toolbox.

    If a creator already uses software to create sculpts instead of working in-world with Sculpt Studio or similar tools, the creator can skip the step that converts his/her Autocad / Collada object into a sculptmap, though.

    And then there is the simple fact that meshes have variable prim equivalents, the “prim count” depending on their size and if they contain scripts.

    Here’s an example that I’ve tried out on the beta grid. I found this Blender object, an origami crane. I exported it as Collada, and uploaded it into a mesh object – it had a prim equivalent of one. After stretching it to the maximum size, it had an equivalent of three. Adding a flight script to make it into an airplane upped the prim equivalent to 36! Add the fact that uploading meshes is more expensive than working with other prim types. Mesh will be quite neat to quickly bring real life creations that exist in other software into Second Life, if cost is no objection.

  2. Myth: Mesh will be awesome for clothesThat might be true.

    But only if you happen to have exactly the same shape as the creator of the outfit in question, because mesh clothes can not be adjusted at all. And besides, I have no idea if mesh clothes could be layered. If not, mix&match is dead. And so far, what I have seen is a kind of weird bendiness at elbows and knees – kind of like the ‘wet noodle’ effect when arms/legs are flexed.

  3. Myth: Mesh will be awesome for full-body avatars 

    True. But only for non-humanavies.There are already shops selling human mesh avies. I tried a demo, and it has the same caveat as mesh clothes – it only works for the shape that is supplied with it.Attack of the clones, anyone? Reminds me of how in Blue Mars™ everybody looks the same, and we all know where that went, right?

My conclusion:

Mesh is not the holy grail. It is another option for creators that makes sense to use for some things, and does not make sense at all for some other things.

Something important to keep in mind –

As of last week, 2/3 of the Second Life population is running viewers that do not support mesh. And about half of them run viewer versions that are so old that I’d like to think that those people would rather cancel their accounts than upgrade to anything from this decade. Add to that what I’ve seen on the SL Merchants group chat, and I’ll have to conclude that at least half of the grid has not even heard of mesh yet. How sad is that?

That being said, I am working on a Dolphin Viewer with mesh support. I’m just not exactly rushing it.