This is just an interesting bit of trivia for my Myst friends. The trivia is the headline and is repeated in the last line of this post. The rest in between is making it make sense for Myst-Uru fans. Many in the Myst-Uru fan realm are not 3D modelers and they are not part of the SL community. So, many of what those of us in Second Life consider basic information needs to be explained.
To set the stage, Myst fans need to know what’s up in English not SL jargon. Second Life (SL), is a virtual world in which about 660 Uru fans have joined the in-world group D’ni Refugees (SLURL). I’ve long pushed it as a place to start learning 3D modeling. I think a large portion of those fans in SL have learned some aspect of 3D modeling. Whatever the case, modeling in SL has been done with primitive shapes (usually called prims). The primitive shapes are changed by parametric deformations. There’s a geeky term, I’ll explain it.
In SL we can make a cube very much like one makes a cube in Blender. Click a menu item and poof you have a cube. In both Blender and SL cubes are made of a number of polygons. At each corner of a polygon is a vertex, a point.
In Blender we can edit any individual vertex and place it anywhere we want. We can add more polygons to help change the shape of the cube. We can blend a cube and a cylinder together. We can rotate the top 4 vertices of the cube to twist it. When we done shaping the cube, we import it into SL, Unreal, or Plasma. (Plasma is the Myst-Uru game engine.)
In SL modifying a cube is done differently. The modifications are done with ‘settings’ or parameters. We cannot select individual vertices and move them. We cannot merge a cube and cylinder into a single object. We can set a ‘twist value’ to twist the cube. We can set a slice value to carve the cube in a limited way. We can set X, Y, Z values to scale the cube. This is what is meant by parametric deformation. Rather than editing vertices and having to learn Blender or 3DS we just enter values, parameters, in an object’s property panel until we have a shape and size we want. A parametric building process is a very simplified 3D modeling environment, which is why I think it is a good beginning modeler’s learning environment.
In SL the building process changed in August. We can now use custom 3D objects (called mesh in SL) in addition to the parametric objects. We can now model in Blender or 3DS and bring free form non-parametric models into SL. The building system is not as advanced as Blue Mars or Unreal. There are some parts of the implementation of free form models (mesh) that are incomplete and that is where former Cyanist Karl “qarl” Stiefvater comes in.
One of the new things we can do in SL is model clothes for our avatars to wear. In 3D modeling avatars have a skeleton made up of bones. The body and clothes worn are connected to the bones, a process called rigging. This allows the arm and sleeve to move together.
In SL the avatar shape is controlled, as you might guess, by parameters. We have parametric avatars, as do most 3D virtual worlds, including Uru Live. We can set the size and shape of our nose, lips, breasts, waist, bottom, and etc.
One of the incomplete parts of SL is the avatar parameters do NOT affect clothes. Oops! So, your bottom may poke through a dress or pants. The current fix is to use an Alpha Layer to make parts of the avatar invisible. It works, but… we learned something about people using this approach.
People spend time making their avatar and working to get their shape just right. With women breast, waist, and hip sizes are import as they convey a level sexuality, which can be too much or too little. So, clothes that do not conform to the personalized shape and effectively redefine it are a problem. It made quite a bit of news recently and has been the subject of numerous studies in other virtual worlds. Now we know it is an issue in SL.
So, a number of SL users are coming together to hire Qarl to build a deformation system that works with the new currently non-parametric clothes in SL.
Qarl formerly of Cyan may fix our SL clothes. See the article: Mesh Clothing Parametric Deformer Project. If you are interested, please donate to the project.