There was lots of debate on the Mesh Deformer and whether it should have a single default shape as the basis for deformation calculations or whether it should have multiple base shapes. That question is still undecided. Discussion has kinda died down, at least in my circles.
If you are unaware of the sides of the debate, see: The Great #SL Deformer Debate.
One of the prime questions I asked in the article is how it will be funded. That is not likely to be a problem.
Another problem is what it would cost to add the capability. Emma Gilmour asked Qarl what it would cost, not that much. We are certain we can raise the needed money in a very short time. We have almost half of it covered now.
So, a couple of questions are down and the possibility becomes much more likely.
And the Lab…
The next challenge is where are we with the Lab and Avatar 2.0?
This is a hard one to make a call on. In the previous article Max makes some good points in the comments.
I asked Oz Linden at the Open Source User Group meeting if there were any proposals from open source peeps pending on Avatar 2.0. There aren’t. Oz answered:
Avatar 2.0 … I have not seen a proposal…. I’m not sure how/where this got started again. Even if there were one, I’d bet a lot against it being given a green light. I think we’ll probably get some minor fixes to the current avatar done… storm-1800 at least. There are a couple of more things that are clearly not great that need fixing. I’d like to get them all done at once.
A couple of people have asked me about it [Avatar 2]. I have not been encouraging. The problem is that there are a _LOT_ of dependencies (some reasonable and expected, some less so) on the current avatar.
That brought up the question from me, “Does the weighting on the avatar have dependencies?” I’m relatively new to weight painting, but I can’t see it having dependencies. The painting is dependent on other things, the skin mesh and armature. But
Oz answered, “I’m the wrong person to ask. The trouble is that I’m not sufficiently expert on these things to make any real decisions. But, we had a good review meeting on it today, and have gotten some testing done. There are some things to investigate, and more testing to do.”
Alternate Base Shapes
I asked Oz if having multiple base shapes was a reasonable idea. The answer:
That’s an unresolved question. The real question at this point is whether or not it’s actually needed. So far, there are two reasons I’ve heard for doing it:
- Reduce texture distortion
- Compensate for odd avatar artifacts at extreme settings
Oz Linden: I don’t find #1 persuasive because:
- Everyone lives with texture distortion now just fine
- It wouldn’t improve texture distortion due to bone length changes anyway and besides, the tests I’ve done so far don’t seem to me to have much of a texture distortion problem.
#2 is more persuasive, but personally I’d rather see an effort to correct the underlying flaws in the base avatar mesh that cause the artifacts in the first place. I’m trying to figure out if that’s possible. But overall, I’m fairly impressed with where we are on that (Mesh Deformer]…. it basically works. I need to pull together the results of our [Linden] meeting (which was very shortly before this one) and send it to Qarl. So … we’re making progress.
While we have a segment of the user base that is convinced alternate and multiple base shapes are important and a solution to some problems, Oz Linden is not convinced. His thinking that users are living just fine with the current distortion is a hint at his perspective. This is one of those places where the programmers and the users see things differently.
Tolerating is not living just fine with a problem. I assume he thinks this because we are not chasing him with signs proclaiming our dissatisfaction with texture distortions.
I think the issue with bone distortion is for a limited user set. Oz thinks that will distort textures no matter what. Emma Gilmour has a Plurk about… more oddly sized avatars… and the problems they are having with mesh clothes. We think other base shapes can minimize what bone sizing could distort.
I also think that with the deformer in action we are going to see more users unhappy with distortion. I can’t know that so we are balancing opinions. So, which weights more, a cubic foot or a cubic kilometer of nothing?
To change the Linden minds we need to do some work.
One, we need to get the funding in place. Since we can’t know whether the Lindens will accept this idea that makes this a candidate for a Crowd Funding project so money can be returned if need be. This shows a level of commitment. We should probably try for lots of small contributions rather than a few large ones.
Two, convince Oz that distortion is a problem. He has given us an opportunity to do just that and help with testing the Deformer. He suggested testing the Deformer saying:
I’d like to have a session with 20 or so people running the deformer and wearing mesh outfits that are deformable. Maybe we could do that at this meeting next week? Throw in a little avatar physics for good measure…. Ok… well, next week may not be best, but I’ll set it up.
When we know when that is going to be, we should get together those that are unhappy with distortion and have non-stereotype shapes show up. We can’t have hundreds trying to show up. But, we do need good examples of the problems to make our case. If we can’t, then we know we’re out in left field and the one-shapers are main stream.
Oz needs to be able to see the problems. He also needs a sense of resident dissatisfaction with the current avatar. May be we all need that sense to get things in proportion. I may think more people want multiple base shapes and are unhappy with things as they are.
We need to make decision quickly because things are moving forward.
The Lindens will be deciding what can and cannot be changed on the avatar. I’m very strongly convinced that Avatar 2 is not a possibility. But, STORM-1800 – The vertex weights of the default character mesh could be better, is likely. Oz hopes to see some of the issues in that JIRA handled.
When we look forward, we think once the Deformer is in place, it won’t change and that it will be hard to get the Lab to reopen discussion on it. I don’t believe that. I think the Lab resists changing the avatar, but I think the Deformer is like any other Lab project. Projects move from development to maintenance. In maintenance, lots of stuff changes. Since the development work is being done outside the Lab, I can’t see it being too much of a problem to change the Deformer later. But, getting it the way we want now is desirable.
Let those you know in the fashion community about this article and let them know Oz is looking for more male clothes to test with the deformer. While he got some clothes to test with, he did not get many males clothes examples.