Content & Mesh UG Week 34

Nyx Linden considers the new Materials System a topic for discussion in this user group. Geenz Spad was there so we had someone to answer Materials System questions.

Content & Mesh UG

Forum – Materials

Check the thread: Normal & Specular Maps. A good question came up. How will Full Bright affect the Specular Map light effect?

Geenz is looking at either:

  • Make full bright objects accept a normal map, and only apply “shiny” lighting as it were to them like all other objects instead of having it handled as its own separate effect (since this will be a controllable set of parameters, it may make the most sense to go this route)
  • Keep full bright objects as-is, and follow up with a more comprehensive solution later for emissive materials

Geenz refers to Full Bright as Emissive… which is probably technically more accurate. For our purposes we just need to remember when he says emissive it means full bright to us.

Information – Materials

From the user group we get that the materials system will change the texture panel to include image slots for the Normal and Specular maps somewhat like the texture slot. The change probably won’t be that simple. But, that is the idea.

The server side change is more simple because we… they are not adding a complex material type. It appears we will be uploading a Normal Map Texture and a Specular Map Texture. So, there is no ‘material asset’ in the way there is a mesh asset.

Oz Linden and Geenz are getting together to get the data spec worked out. Then the server team can be working on the server side of things.

There will likely be controls to set the amount of displacement for normal maps and some setting to adjust the light affect for specular maps. If you are using a 3D modeling program like Blender, you can play with the controls in it to see what it will be like in SL. Expect something similar.

With textures we can set the number of repeats, rotation, and flip. When Materials are initially released, the Normal and Specular maps are likely to be locked to those same settings. At some point, that lock may be removed. I think this is just a viewer side issue. But it could be a rather complex render problem to solve. The simple solution will be to tie them together. May be some day we will see a more complex solution implemented.

We will be able to add a material to each face of an object. A basic unmodified cube will be able to have 6 materials: texture (diffuse) +normal+specular. One material per face. A mesh will have the same 8 faces it does now and each can have a material.

This idea means that an object could have 3 times as many textures. A mesh object with 8 faces could have 24 textures.  Wile the ‘repeats’ will have to be the same there is nothing that says the Normal and Specular map have to be same size or the same size as the texture/diffuse image. Still it will mean more data to download. That ties in with the HTTP Library update, it will be needed.


You may not have thought about it, but I’m betting there will be a cost for using a normal map. There will probably be an upload cost for each map. Then there will be some sort of streaming cost to push people to make efficient maps.

There is also going to be a render cost. Whether the render cost will be factored into Land Impact is hard to anticipate. I suspect these are items that have not been worked out.

Old Viewers

This is another feature that will add push users to upgrade to new viewers. A number of projects looking to complete in the last half of 2012 will doom old V1 viewers. If one’s hardware is not good enough to run a new viewer, it is time to start planning an upgrade.

By the end of this year old viewers will only be showing a mostly grey world. Avatars will never render correctly, inventory will fail… it is going to be sad. But, time marches on.

That does not mean the V1 user interface is going away, just the viewers based on the V1 code base. Several viewers use V3 code with a V1 user interface.


VWR-12214 – change background color in upload preview tool and VWR-27954 – Mesh Upload Window is not resizable are JIRA requests for fixes to the mesh uploader. Nyx says they are on the internal list of things to get fixed. The Lindens have just not gotten to them yet.

VWR-29339 – Add floor to all upload previews to allow users to offset heights more accurately and efficiently. This one is in the same list. I’m not sure but, I think this one has been coded and is in QA testing.

VWR-29349 – Additional bones for rigging. So far, this one is not yet scheduled.

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