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.

Dolphin Viewer 2, Mesh & Web Profiles

I guess I should say something now about Dolphin Viewer 2, and mesh.

I just did that in an email mini interview with Inara Pey for her blog, so I’ll just throw in the link here.

To make the difficulties quite clear:

To upload mesh, the viewer needs to be able to do what is called “convex hull decomposition” on the uploaded mesh object. This is for the purpose of creating the “collision mesh”, which determines where the physical hull of the object is, the surface that things bounce off. Simply, with that you can walk across a mesh boulder without the need for it to be phantom + a non-phantom invisiprim, but you don’t walk on empty air a foot over the rock either, like you would with a sculpt.

The problems for Third Party Viewers come from the fact that the original source code uses parts of the Havoc physics engine to do this, and that code can’t be given away, because it’s not open source.

Several members of the Snowstorm community are working on a replacement that is based on an open-source physics engine, and so far they have something quite promising but not quite ready. Things are looking good though.

Another hot topic are the new (and in my opinion much improved) web profiles.

The web profiles were removed from Dolphin Viewer 2 in release 2.5.3 because back then, they were just way too broken for me to be happy with having them in a viewer meant for actual daily use.

Let’s just be quick and painless: Any 2.7 / 2.8 based Dolphin viewer (the version yet to come that will have mesh) will also have web profiles. And since I’m kind of forced to wait for the people with the mesh open source thingie, I’ll be working on plugging the new web profiles back into Dolphin 2.5 in the meantime. With some small improvements of course or my avie’s name is not Lance Corrimal 😉