The Great #SL Deformer Debate

For the last few days a debate has rolled along between the Sizers and the Deformers. It has carried on in the JIRA. So, it is essentially invisible except to those following it. I’ve been reading the arguments to see what people think and from those that don’t react but actually think: why.

Another gotcha at the max breast size setting

Single Base Deformer Side

Max Graf probably represents the Deformers best and does it rationally. You may remember he was instrumental in creating funding for the Deformer project. His vision for the Deformer was for it to allow designers to make one size of mesh clothes and have that size fit all sizes and shapes of avatar. While he understands there will be stretching, he believes it will be at an acceptable level. The effort to deal with numerous sizes for such a small benefit in texture quality seems disproportionate in Max’s thinking.

Max considers the standard sizing a promotional effort to sell mesh clothes that don’t fit. I suspect most of us know getting mesh clothes that fit right now is a PITA. Max’s belief is standard sizing should go away and the Deformer will make a one size fit all world, which would be ideal. He believes his experience shows the deformer works perfectly using the Default Shape base size.

From reading what Max has written at plurk (Maxwell Graf – see Gianna’s Plurk and EmmaG’s) I think it is clear he believes adding sizes to the Deformer by making them an integral part of the deformer will force all into using them. I don’t see that.

The bottom line is this: if a creator wants to use multiple sizes for items, that’s fine. No one should say they couldn’t. However, making that a permanent and integrated part of the deformer feature, so it is forced on everyone, is a mistake.

Max makes an interesting point about Avatar 2.0. He points out that in several places conversation is turning toward creating a better avatar. He feels that as pressure mounts to make the avatar work better with the Deformer the Lab will be pressed into providing a better avatar. I know that hope and working with the avatar for the last few days I know some of the problems it has are VERY annoying.

Max thinks the Lab is working toward Avatar 2.0. I have to disagree because the Lindens I talk to say that is not so. Oz Linden when specifically asked says not so, no project in motion. Any Avatar 2.0 or improvements will have to come from the community.

That doesn’t mean the 4 Lindens I talked to know everything happening in the Lab. But, I suspect if the Avatar were being worked on they would know. So, either Max’s or my idea of being worked on is different or it just isn’t so.

Max believes if we move toward a Deformer that will use alternate base shapes there will be no need to create a better avatar and pressure on the Lab will drop off. The pressure could drop off. I just don’t see it being that great now. So, a change from little to none going to near nothing doesn’t seem significant. But, I’m pretty sure we have NO WAY to know how much pressure there is or isn’t to change the avatar.

As the debate gets less civil the idea is put forth: designers should design for the problems of texture stretching and mesh distortion and live with the Single Size Deformer. Personally I’m not sure that is possible. I have no doubt a few people can figure it out. But, I think this adds complication while claiming to reduce complication from dealing with multiple sizes. Until one is designing mesh clothes I doubt one has enough information to make this call either way. Then it becomes a matter of what one is personally capable of doing.

Sizers or Multi-Base Side

On the other side we have Elie Spot (SL) AKA EmmaG (Plurk see 5/21) promoting the idea that standard sizes are a useable work-around now and would be a good thing for a set of alternative base shapes. Elie expects some type of flexibility for the base shapes to be added to the Deformer.

Elie believes if the Deformer were to use multiple base shapes and the current standard shapes were used then the clothes being use now would fit well and look good, meaning minimal stretch and distortion. If we get a means to do in-world conversions of existing mesh then this would be a major time and cost saver.

In one post in the JIRA Elie explains her view. To fill in a bit, you need to know that  Minnu Palen & Thora Charron (of LeLutka), Siddean Munro (of SLink), Elie & Anouk Spot (of Mon Tissu) and Jaden Celoe & Shay Sibrian (of Celoe) worked to find the average shapes in use in Second Life. The result is the set of standard sizes provided for free in the Market Place. (MP Standard Size Package)

Elie notes that smaller, larger, and more curvy avatars do not fit the standard shapes. I know that. My butt and breasts are too small for large and too big for medium. Like many others I don’t plan to change my shape to fit a dress, even if it is easier in SL than RL.

Elie does not like the texture distortion she sees using the Deformer which uses the current SL Default Shape. Look at Mesh Deformer 0.2 Update to see what you think. I was playing with Deformer 0.2 at the time. Before the Deformer was out in Beta I wrote about the problem concerning texture stretching: #SL Mesh and the Button Problem. You’ll have to decide if the stretching and distortion is a problem for you.

A long with texture distortions another concern is actual mesh distortions.

Elie Spot's Example of Mesh Distortion

In the opening image above and in the image immediately above you can see the mesh breaking down when using Deformer 0.2. I have not tried with Deformer 0.3 yet. I think most of the changes between 0.2 and 0.3 are performance changes. The closer the base shape used by the designer is to your actual shape, the smaller this type of distortion will be. Check out MetaReality’s recent podcast where Karl Stiefvater discusses it. I have a summary and time mark index to the audio in Mesh Deformer Update from MetaReality.

Elie wants to see the Deformer support selectable base shapes. She is promoting adding the current 5 Standard Sizes as alternate base shapes for the Deformer. Her belief is that will provide us the best possible result. She believes curvier avatars and large avatars are not going to be happy with the distortion that occurs.

She also wants an in-world converter. If you don’t know, mesh clothes that are to use the Deformer must be uploaded with the Deformer Project viewer so the Deform Flag is set. Otherwise the Deformer ignores it. If it didn’t, then Deformer would try to deform things never intended to be deformed.

All mesh previously uploaded is missing the flag. All mesh missing the flag is NOT deformed. Elie would like to see in-world conversion possible. That task is likely to run into Permissions problems. The way the asset system works is each items has a UUID (Unique Universal ID). Change the object and the system sees it as a new object and gives it a new UUID, essentially making a copy it and changing the copy. So, changing the flag will necessitate making a new object or basically copying it. So, it may be possible for Copy-Mod-OK items.

A Thing About Standard Sizes

You may be one of the people that participated in the survey to come up with the Standard Sizes. I suspect most of us did not. No one has said what the sample size was, how many participated? But, even if 100% of Second Life participated, the sizes are still averages. I think that just guarantees that they will fit no one.

Misleading Market Hype

The standard sizes were made up for a reason and the creators of the system did it as well as they could. As things are now I don’t know a better way, thus the importance of and the excitement about the Deformer.

But… not all the people saying they are building for the Standard Sizes are. In a post Innula Zenovka points out what I have observed. Some designers’ clothes said to be a ‘standard size’ fit me pretty well. Other designers making the same claim have clothes that don’t fit.

This suggests truth in advertising in Second Life is as questionable as it is in RL. So, we can’t blame all the poorly fitting Standard Sized clothes on the standard. Much of the problem is in how people attempt to implement it. I’m hoping my tutorial mitigates some of those problems.

9 thoughts on “The Great #SL Deformer Debate

  1. Thank you so much for putting out (in your usual pertinent, informative and spot-on manner) BOTH sides of this information! It is imperative that this gets out to as many people as possible, knowledge is power.

    I would also like to add a simple addendum to the information about my side of things: In the information about avatar 2.0 being worked on, it should be clarified that what I meant by that is not that LL is working currently on one. A jira has been created and a proposal has been presented (not sure if it has been accepted or is being reviewed) for the community to develop a new avatar, not LL, which would then be supplied to them. Ideally, the proposal speculates that this would then become optional as a choice in the client, as avatar 1 or avatar 2, so as to eliminate the possibility of breaking any of the plethora of legacy content out there while allowing for the future development of better mesh clothing and a better functioning deformer.

    I know at this time that Oz has been made aware of this and has said they are willing to consider it, which is a considerable change from the vehement “NO” of the past several attempts to have this happen. This was my reasoning for mentioning it in the deformer/sizes debate, as the progress thus far on the deformer using a single size has brought the focus directly onto the problems caused by the old avatar. I would further speculate that if ever there was a chance for this to happen (albeit developed by the community) then now seems more likely than in the past. My personal feeling on the matter is that by having multiple sizes AND the deformer, the likelyhood that a new avatar may be adopted is less likely, since yet again, the multiple sizes offer a workaround to the problems, not a solution to it.

    Thank you again for presenting all this information, and patiently sorting through this lengthy reply.


    • Thanks for taking the time to reply.

      I know there was to be a proposal for Avatar 2.0. I think Geenz was going to work on it, review it, something. But, last I heard it had not shown up on Oz’s desk. If there were a community proposal for Avatar 2, I would be supporting it and I think many others would too. So, if you have more specific information on it, I would like to hear more.

  2. A new better avatar would be the perfect solution, the alternate shapes is a workaround. But i think its better than a shape to rule them all.

  3. The current base avatar is very low rez and in early testing of the mesh deformer it became obvious that with the higher rez mesh clothing there tended to be some points on the av that poked out. It’s just not as smooth. I believe qarl made some changes to help hide those problems, but it’s just inherent in the content.
    In the end, that avatar will need to be replaced, but it’s not easy. I can list a bunch of stuff if asked, even under the assumption that LL leaves the existing system in place and develops a parallel one. I was guessing 9 months, with a huge amount of creator involvement and maybe 5 engineers covering viewer, sim, animation, rendering, and marketplace. My opinion is that if you see an Avatar replacement project start up, that is a sign LL wants to invest in SL. If not, well…

    Max is great, although I disagreed with the mesh deformer and how it came to be. Ahh well…
    I love Elie, and I am glad to see that she’s still involved. I agree with Standard Sizing, and would like to have had a chance to help it become more widely ‘standard’ (to Nals’ comment about creator differences).

    I do have to laugh because one of my reasons for deferring work on mesh clothing back in 2010 was because I didn’t want to use resources on it if I could get an Avatar 2.0 project going.

  4. Even in real life, standards of sizing differ. From one maker you might be a size 12, and from another you might be a 10. There is variation.

    I have only 3 mesh outfits out in my store, and I made them before standard sizing was arrived at. I came up with three size estimations on my own, Large, Medium and Small. People have told me that they are pretty much able to get a close fit from these three sizes, so that is good.

    I am not an extreme shape, but I find that the standard sizing does not fit me. My breasts fit the large shape, but my butt fits the small shape. For one dress that I liked a lot, I did make a shape with smaller breasts and saved that shape with the outfit to wear. That is another potential solution, but not one that many will like and noobs will not know enough to do that.

    Right now I am not making mesh clothing. I am creating other things in mesh. I am waiting for the deformer to come out on the official LL viewers and Firestorm. I see no point in making something and then having to change it.

    I favour the deformer without standard sizing approach.

  5. Pingback: Second Life Advanced Modeling Blender 2.6 Tutorial 2012

  6. Pingback: "Standard Sizing", or why I refuse to wear mesh clothes - Page 3 - SLUniverse Forums

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