Since SL10B things have been interesting in that there has been a real focus shift towards Virtual Reality and new platforms, although it kinda feels Second Life got reluctantly pushed amongst the hip VR crowd… anyways screw all that Oculus VR rubbish.
It wasn’t until i started playing around with High Fidelity that i realised just how much we take for granted stuff like the mesh importer, the chat set up, the sense of scale and presence in virtual space, Inventory, how simple SL actually is for what it does and provides. I think as other platforms finally rise, we will suddenly be a lot more appreciative of what those who worked on Second Life achieved… if not, then we should.
As we party into SL11B I’m cautiously optimistic but also incredibly upbeat about whats now possible in SL. In the past few weeks we finally saw an end to project sunshine, which to be honest i can’t tell if its improved things or not since like everything the lab does it was a gradual thing that i never really noticed. I still crash in busy places, and while Avatar faces and skin loads super fast, their mesh clothes seem to have increasing difficulty. But things have improved and you can see this when looking back at old videos.
Building, turned up to 11
This time last year the materials feature was just out, and since then i’ve got to grips with Normal Maps and Specular maps, all of these things i knew nothing about until it was added to SL and it really has taken everything i build up a notch. Combing Material mapping, mesh modelling, Alpha masking and Lighting can produce truly amazing results that were never possible before.
Clothing, turned up to 11
I hate fitted Mesh, well… i mean… i hate that i haven’t quite figured it out yet. The Lab didn’t just add mesh import, they designed an interface for importing mesh with lots of considered options with previews. Fitted Mesh is sort of a hack job slapped on, you can’t even preview the fitted aspects of your creations, you just upload and cry as you end up spiky to infinity.
My experience with fitted mesh is a combination of Experimental Avastar, beta Blender and Original Mesh Avatars, so i basically made it as hard as i possibly could to start with. But my first Mesh Avatar is partially fitted which for now is enough for what i want to do and I’m sure by Sl12B Avastar and fitted mesh will mature.
The Combination of Fitted Mesh, Materials and Alpha Masking is also allowing for some fantastic effects and surfaces on clothing to rival AAA games. I’m also considering a step backwards for my clothes. I’m increasingly aware now that not everyone is comfortable being on the bleeding edge of whats possible in SL, so while i work on a mesh avatar with accompanying clothing, i will also make clothing more tuned for use with old default avatars.
I think we are at a point now where Mesh Avatars will really start taking off, and perhaps we’ll see a competitive battle for users and supporters while working around the limitations of the base avatars everything is built on.
Experiences , turned up to 11
Im still waiting for the Experience Tools being released. I’ve read a few blogs recently saying Linden Lab will announce a Beta next month, but i simply don’t believe that, it’s all just an elaborate tease as they know how much i want the experience tools.
If it was true, i would be able to Ask you for permission to be god when you arrive at Escapades Island, then i could attach a HUD to you that would give you a stick and a mission to complete and off you go. Meet a troll who asks you a question, get the question wrong and i can animate you as you are swallowed by the troll and teleported inside the trolls tummy where you meet a Goblin who asks you to help him escaped the troll.
It’s all a combination of HUD story telling, teleporting, attachments and animating all of which i can can do now, just need to assign all the parts to ONE experience which you can give permission to. Really it’s all a matter of trust, will you trust a boy called Loki to animate, teleport and attach things to you :-p
Ignoring the VR Hype, turned up to 11
So regardless of the news of SecondSecondLife, HyFy, FaceBookWorld, Oculus and born again VR evangelists, Second life this year is emerging from its dark ages into a time of enlightenment. More stability and the maturing of features & tools are allowing us to create some stunning works and new experiences. I don’t want to speculate about how awesome things will be in future, things are already awesome, and getting better each day… or each month at least. In regards to how Linden Lab will compete with other platforms, the other platforms don’t have us users backing them… did i say backing, i meant standing behind the Lab with sticks shouting “FIX THIS , FIX THAT, WHY DID YOU ADD USERNAMES!????”
Anyways, Happy 11th anniversary Second Life, it’s changed how i view the world and the infinite variety of people living on it and allowed me to share my dreams in so many creative ways.