I’m taking another look at the viewer’s My Outfits panel in this article. People have used it enough to have formed opinions. Also, some may have figured out efficient ways to use Outfits. But, I have yet to find anyone that is really happy with Outfits as they exist. I also expect to see Outfits change at some future date. The question is can we influence the change?
I have ambiguous feelings about the ‘My Outfits’ panel or more technically correct the Appearance Panel. Since I am usually in the My Outfits tab I tend to think of and call it the Outfits Panel.
I like it and have issues with it. When it first arrived there were so many other new ways to do things in Viewer 2 I put off dealing with it. When I did start looking at it, it was so awkward to use I put it off some more. Now a discussion at SLUniverse got me thinking about it again. (Reference) The result follows.
The discussion at SLUniverse shows more people using Outfits than not, but I suppose it would bias toward those people from the title, Outfits and You. I’m hoping my article will suffer less bias. But, there is no way to know. Also, this is the first poll I’ve run in my blog. 🙂[poll id=”2″]
Some people have tried Outfits and given up on them. I experiment and I’m still trying to figure out some easy way to use them. Everything I’ve tried has its problems. I think the number of Outfits people have tells us something about how well one has learned to use them. Some fashionestas use them to make the outfits they photograph and then seldom ever use the outfit again when the shoot finishes.
In the poll below, when I ask about OUTFITS I mean outfits in the My Outfits panel (Appearance).[poll id=3]
One of the prevalent complaints about Outfits is the lack of any way to organize them. I suppose that is a prevalent complaint about inventory too. But, I’ve learned to deal with inventory as each of us has. However it is an ongoing process dealing with inventory. I’m reasonably OK with inventory, because I can’t think of anything better. But, I have mixed feelings toward Outfits. They add more tedium to the organizational process.
I haven’t seen any great concepts for organization coming from third party viewers for either inventory or Outfits. Firestorm 220.127.116.1180 does have the ability to sort and find items by the creator. (Look in the Gear icon and find Search By) Except for a few creators like Cool Beans and Anti-Cute I don’t remember designer names. I suspect few of us do. But, I am sure some will find the new search tools a must have.
I have seen some add-on features for inventory management. An interesting one is by Carlyle Theas. See (CTS) Wardrobe: Organize your outfits with style! A visual inventory organizer. (L$699) I would love to hear from any of you that are using it.
There are lots of Organizers in the Market Place. I’m not sure many are all that handy. Nor do I get that they use or take advantage of Outfits. If you know better, let me know.
Outfits Panel Organizing
The biggest problem with Outfits is that in the Outfits Panel there is no way to create subfolders. In geek speak, there is no hierarchy. I can go into the My Outfits folder via the Inventory Panel and create subfolders and organize things. But, back in the Outfits Panel all that organization is lost. There all one sees is a list of the Outfit folders and no folder is within another folder.
People must use naming conventions to organize their Outfits. I resorted to naming Outfits to organize them. I have a folder named !ASAIN in the Outfits folder in Inventory. I place my cheongsams and other Asian style Outfits in it.
Since that organization disappears in the Outfits Panel, I name each Outfit: !Asian – [some descriptive name]. I also have other groupings like; !Dresses Short, !Growns, !Latex, !Sexy, and others. Others have their naming styles. But, this is all that’s available.
We learn to use the Inventory Search, or actually the filter, to find things in our inventory. But, have you tried to use that feature in the Appearance Panel, what I’m calling the Outfits Panel? It’s almost completely useless. See JIRA: VWR-28280, SINV-3, VWR-28197, VWR-24508, and more.
In the old V1 viewers we could make a new outfit and select what went into the outfit. We had a whole big bunch of check boxes to click when creating an outfit. I liked that level of control. Now we have no ‘pre-creation’ choices. I suppose that check box panel was considered a learning obstacle when the viewer was redesigned.
With the old system it did take me a bit to realize and think of the avatar has having all these slots I could put things in. The old system gave me the ability to decide which items I would include in an outfit that would replace items on the avatar. Making mix and match outfits was pretty easy.
Now we have multi-layer wearables and multi-attachment attachment points. That does add some complication to an already complex concept. In a viewer where one is trying to simplify things and increase creative options there is probably no simple solution. If a creative type comes up with one, they may be able to take over the world… Second Life at least.
It seems the Outfits idea is part of a move to simplify all of the appearance process. I think it also shows the Lab is taking a direction toward some easier to use system. With Outfits we have only part of that system. I think parts are missing. When we see Direct Delivery arrive, we may see more parts of the puzzle arrive. Until then creating an Outfit via the Outfits Panel creates 100% avatar. Every item your avatar is wearing is added to the Outfit, including HUD’s. That has its advantages. It also has its problems.
In RL I have a skin that doesn’t change and a hair do that stays the same, at least color, for weeks at a time. I tend to have the same habits in Second Life. I get a new do and I want to wear it for some time. Then I’m off to the next new do. Very few of my hair do’s are important to a clothes outfit. For me some up-do’s work well with gowns and I have do’s I like with certain gowns. So, Outfits via the Outfits Panel are handy for those, the total look change. But, mostly not.
A nice skin in SL tends to be expensive. I am guessing people have fewer skins than dresses or shoes and so change skins less often.
Day to day clothes are more of a problem for me. To remove items like hair, skin, or eyes from an Outfit one has some challenges to handle. I find it awkward to use the Outfit Panel. I switch back to the Inventory Panel to remove parts of the Outfit, like hair. In my opinion this just adds to the tedium and complexity. I don’t understand why we cannot remove a skin from an Outfit. After all, it is just a link.
If I get the right stuff removed from a dress’s Outfit, I can add the dress outfit to other outfits without breaking them.
I like to have a basic ‘me’ avatar. So, I have an outfit that is; bald, eyes, favorite tat, lashes, shape, skin, and my AO. This Outfit gives me a starting place for new Outfits. Using Wear – Replace Current Outfit with my basic nude ‘me’ essentially strips me. I can build new Outfits on top of this look.
With the basic look I think I should be able to rely on the additional features in the Outlook Panel to make an outfit. It took me some time to figure out the new system is based on; addition, replacement, and subtraction. How to use that took even longer because it doesn’t work as I expect. I find it far more tedious to use than the old system.
Outfit’s Wear – Replace removes everything you are wearing and replaces it with the stuff in the Outfit. If you omit a hair do from the Outfit, then after you ‘replace’ are wearing no hair. All attachments go.
However, an avatar must have certain things, like a shape and skin. If the current Outfit has no shape or skin then the one you wore before doing the replace is kept.
Outfit’s Take Off – Remove From takes off things except for skin, shape, and those things that an avatar must wear. This is the subtraction part.
Outfit’s Wear – Add To of course adds whatever is in the Outfit to the current Outfit. In my thinking this is what all my dresses should me planned to use.
Somewhere in this process one has to get clear whether they are working on the avatar or the Outfit. I think the current system is confused, or at least confusing, on this point.
Where It Complicates
So, I can use my basic NUDE Outfit to stip. I can add hair, nails, jewelry, eyes, clothes, shoes, and whatever in this state. Once I have my complete outfit I THINK I should be able to go back to the basic Nude outfit and do a Take Off then create my Outfit. Then put them back on after creating it. But, no matter what I do I still get a skin, eyes, shape, and etc. in the new Outfit. I then have to go into Inventory and delete my Basic Nude items links one by one from the Outfit. Tedious. Or just leave them and know they will be in the Outfit.
Doing the Take Off Outfit of my Basic Nude does clear my tattoo, lashes, lashes alpha layer, and other attachments. That saves me wearing multiple copies of the tat, if I use Wear Add with the dress Outfit. But, if I go to a new skin I have lots of Outfits that will have to change or I have to go into Inventory and remove those links.
Using these one would think they could create pretty much make any Outfit one wants. But, those must wear items are a problem. Leaving the skin in an Outfit means that if at some point I get a new skin, I have to go in and remove skin from all the Outfits I’ve made using the previous skin. TEDIOUS. Or I have to go in and remove skin from every Outfit as I make it, also tedious. I can’t fix the Outfit from within the Outfit Panel.
As I see it, it is much harder to have a way to use our clothes and appearance parts in mix and match ways in Viewer 3. In Viewer 1 it was easier to make mix and match outfits and wear them. But, one had to learn to do that early on in their SL life. Now new users can use total look change via Outfits without much initial learning. So, there are some good and bad trade-offs in the process.
Both new and experienced users have to face the chaos of Outfits as they spend more time in Second Life. I believe some part of this chaos has an effect on player retention. I have no idea how much effect and I can only even begin to figure out how to learn the answer to that question. But, I’m certain Inventory and Outfit management is NOT considered fun by most Second Life users. I would not be surprised to find inventory voted the absolute least fun part of SL.
Here is what I hope is a fun poll. This uses DynaPoll.net’s polls. If you haven’t seen them or taken one, you need to know there is a fun kink in them. Most polls the originator gets to pick the choices. In one type of DynaPoll the originator makes an initial pick and then polled people get to pick the rest.[dynapoll: Bn3XCDY1zEGL6NCEzM7rY, “dark”]
OK… this sucks… You have to visit the DynaPoll site to take the poll… Its a cute idea, poorly implemented.
You can see the problems people are having with Outfits using a JIRA search. If you are logged into the JIRA you should be able to use Outfit Issues, otherwise you will get an error. You quickly learn searching/filtering Outfits has problems.
I think Inventory and Outfits are a problem for people. Long time users have grown accustomed to it the problems and have stopped complaining. New users simply do not know any better. I suppose they think they’ll figure it out at some point. Or they may just be asking, why is it so hard and moving on. Whatever the case, no one has come up with a better idea.
I suppose if those programming Second Life had to change outfits every time they went in-world, things might change. I doubt that will happen.
Since there is no easy solution, Inventory and Outfits management is likely to remain a low priority with the Lab. May be some third party developer will figure out a good solution.
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