The mesh upload interface has been revised in the Mesh Project Viewer and the upload reworked. One can get the latest Second Life Mesh Project Viewer and check it out. I think the layout is much nicer. (Also this link should always point you to the latest Mesh Viewer.)
This version is likely the user interface that we will have at Mesh rollout.
Lots of people want working fingers, which requires the addition of more bones to the avie. No word if that is going to happen. I personally have my doubts, but may be down the road.
Custom Animated Skeletons
Currently the only usable skeleton in SL is the avie’s. But, having other skeletons that could be animated would make things like dragons, horses, and dogs much easier to animate. Whatever, they will not be part of the initial rollout of mesh. However Prep Linden is working with them.
The word from the Lindens is there is no plan to replace the existing avatar… but there is a prototype of the new avie mesh. So, translating the Lindenese, this means there is no plan to rollout AV 2.0 …NOW.
One of the big issues with changing the avatar is in how clothes map to it. The Chip Midnight clothes templates are actually UV Maps for the current avatar. They have been colored to make matching ‘edges’ easier but they are still a UV Map.
If one changes the avatar, the UV Map changes too. Whether or not one could make them compatible is unknown. While possible the result would be way less than desirable. So, it is doubtful, which means all the clothes in SL would not work with the new avie. How happy would that make you? I would be ticked if my Vogue dresses and Bugshit latex did not fit any more…
There is a debate going on about whether it is better to let Linden Lab design AV 2.0 or allow the community and market place design and decide on an updated avatar. I’m a hardcore capitalist and believe people in all their chaos can do the better job of building and selecting the best avatar.
But if there are dozens of different avatars, how do people design clothes for them? Each avatar will have its own clothing template (UV Map). Supposedly a fashion designer would have to become an avatar designer too. I suppose a design house could commission an avatar for their line of clothes… I don’t know.
I think most fashion houses will design for the default avatar. A few will try their hand at custom avatars and clothes. It would allow them to have a line of clothes exclusively for their avatar mesh. But, would I really want to have an avatar that could only wear clothes from one designer? I think not.
Anyway, you can see the types of problems that are coming up. Some people are going to get frustrated and upset and give up, if the Lab doesn’t bend to their desire. Others will accept the change, find solutions, and move ahead.
Much of this is currently academic as current meshes used to replace the avatar mesh cannot wear mesh clothes. So, until we get custom skeletons, we are going to be stuck with the Lab’s AV 1 or 2.
For those wanting to model new avatars there is an open source project named MakeHuman. It is in the early stages but residents have gotten it to work with SL mesh import. The software is for making humanoid type avatars.
Mesh and Fashion
Whether or not there is to be a new avatar mesh is a big issue for fashion designers. Mesh clothes and the current avatar are not the best solution. There are lots of problems that are not obvious at first thought.
A good work around compromise would be to make mesh clothes or any rigged mesh scalable. That has problems too. The idea of allowing the mesh clothes to be morphed with avatar sliders may be a better solution. Whichever, its being figured out.
Another problem found is that alpha layers are conflicting. A boot maker’s alpha layer can mess up a dress maker’s alpha layer. Put on the dress’ layer and then the boot’s layer and the dress’s is replaced.
A possible solution is to have layered alpha layers, which Vivienne D. has found is already possible. By selecting two alpha layer textures and dragging those to the alpha layer box one can wear both of them. They are then added to an outfit, they will both be worn when the outfit is worn. A change to have Wear and Add buttons for alpha layers would make it easier for people to realize this can be done.
I’m using the SLV2.4.214921 Development Viewer as I write this. It actually has the Add and Wear buttons for Alpah Layers. I found it rather difficult to add alpha layers to my avie because I kept starting by using Right-Click-AV -> Edit Outfit. I found the Add More… button misleading. It is more of an Add More Existing Inventory or Clothes button. Creating new clothing items and new body parts is in the Gear Icon.
While I don’t find the Add More… part of the panel all that useful, I suspect the Lab will improve it over time. However, once you have an alpha layer showing in the Add More… then right-clicking it brings up the options to Replace, Add, or Create New Alpha.
Right-clicking an alpha layer in inventory brings up Wear (Replace), Edit, Add, Take Off, and other choices (see image). So, the ability to use multiple alpha layers is already built in, even if a bit inconsistent in the labeling and user interfaces.
No word on mesh upload cost leaking out yet. The Lindens say it is still a matter of internal discussion and ongoing.
I am unsure how many people know that Google’s SketchUp can be used to build for SL, Blue Mars, and in a roundabout way for Uru Live. SketchUp has a Collada model export-import ability, which is what is needed to import models to SL and Blue Mars (how to). For Uru Live the files can be imported to 3DS Max or Blender and exported to Plasma (not as simple as it sounds but doable).
We may see mesh rollout before Christmas or may be soon after. The Lindens have lots of bugs to fix and the accounting has to be implemented. Also, there are follow on features.