Movement on the mesh project appears slow right now. The effort is going toward combining the mesh code and regular simulator and viewer code and the effort to get it all to compile using VS2010. So, we aren’t seeing many new bug fixes or features. Still the project is moving forward.
Regression testing over the last week revealed some complex problems the team worked to get corrected, apparently taking more effort than anyone expected. While it adds nothing new it is progress.
You may remember that Mesh Assets were being removed from the system. We will only have mesh objects. So, the small window where mesh assets were dropped into an object, like sculpty maps, is gone. The mesh asset in inventory is gone. While these removals may seem simple, it has been more of a problem than expected. The team has been fixing those problems.
You may also remember that the mesh object was being cleaned up, attribute naming made more meaningful, and some unneeded attributes were being removed. That created unexpected problems with mesh. Some changes are being made for better caching and performance. So, a new set of object attributes are being created based on new knowledge. So, once again objects imported using the previous mesh object model will break and have to be re-uploaded.
The new mesh objects attributes will not be in use until the server and viewer software can be updated with the new mesh format. We’ll see an announcement in the forum when it is ready to deploy.
The team still needs people to help by using the Mesh Project Viewer on the main grid. You can’t do mesh stuff with it on the main grid. But, it does need regression testing and that is what you are doing when you use it as a day-to-day viewer on the main grid.
Bone Scaling and Rotation
Nyx is working on adding bone scaling and rotation features to the mesh importer. We may see the features toward the end of this week, may be sooner or may be latter. It depends on what comes up that Nyx may have to handle. The feature may or may not make it into the first release of mesh, according to Nyx.
That statement by Nyx suggests to me that much of the current ongoing work is toward getting mesh into the standard viewer and grid server software for release of mesh. That most work on JIRA bugs (400+) has stopped suggests they are concentrating only on the things they think will affect the release date.
Sculpty Faces Hack
If you work with sculpties, you know they have one face and take one texture. It seems someone named Whirly Fizzle figured out how to export the sculpty making an XML file. Face information is added to the XML and it is re-imported. The resulting sculpty then has faces and will accept more than one texture.
It is suspected that some of the mesh code is supporting this hack. Whatever the case, it is an interesting hack. Getting more than one texture on a sculpty could be very handy. But, as with any hack in SL, there is no telling when SL may fix something and break everything made using the hack.
Mesh animation is something some residents are looking at. You may know that sculpties can be animated by changing the sculpty map via script. That type of animation for a mesh doesn’t work because of how the server is designed; the ‘mesh asset’ can’t be changed after a mesh rezzes. Well… can’t change without causing problems the pile up and lead to a sim crash.
The alternative way to animate mesh is the avatar, which is an animated mesh. To animate an ant one would need a different skeleton, otherwise only 4 of the 6 legs could be animated. We are unlikely to have alternate skeletons when mesh releases. But, it appears it will be a feature added at a later date.
There are things modelers can do with mesh in other worlds. Runitia Linden has asked that as those things Second Life does not support come up, the models be sent to the Lindens with a JIRA feature request. That does not mean they will be added to SL, but they will at least be considered.
Blender pivot points are not importing correctly… or may be how they are used is more accurate. I suppose the object center is used as the pivot point. Object centers can be set by the modeler in Blender. There is a work-around kludge for Blender object centers to be translated and used as SL pivot points… which I can’t find right now. Nyx said a fix may be added by the time mesh is released. If not, then some time after the initial release.
These changes will affect OpenSim too. All mesh content on OpenSim grids will break with the mesh data format change. Or, at least it will when this change is implemented in OpenSim grids. Basically uploading the content with a new mesh upload capable viewer is all that is needed to restore mesh content. I am assuming that this change will not propagate to OpenSim grids for a week or so. I expect to see an announcement on OSGrid before the change is rolled out there.
Whatever the case, those that have been building with mesh content in OpenSim grids will be unhappy. I guess that is the cost of being on the cutting edge.
The Lindens are still not giving us a release date or a new time frame for mesh release. I think the conversations are sounding more and more like release is imminent. We’ll see.
I am unsure when we will see mesh move to the release channels. The mesh asset removal and mesh data format changing have created unexpected problems. I suspect delays from those changes as they will need to retest in ADITI. Completing the code merge will make it possible to move the project to the AGNI Release Channels. But, the retesting in ADITI will take some time and may reveal some additional problems. If we are lucky, we may see release around the end of the month. If the mesh data format change reveals new problems, the release date will slide back.
It seems to me that the main focus is to get mesh right. I think there is some pressure to get mesh released this quarter. But, mesh is going to be such a foundational piece of Second Life, the emphasis to have it right is likely to remain the primary control on a release date. Obviously the Lindens implementing mesh have not reached the comfort level to feel it time to run with mesh as is. Hopefully this latest mesh data format change will work well and we will see mesh in weeks rather than months.