Penny Patton writes thoughtful articles on various aspects of Second Life™. Penny is the one that got me motivated to make a better and more proportional and to scale avatar and she has inspired me to write a few articles. She is currently writing about some of the challenges in Second Life retaining users.
The first article is: A Critical Look at Second Life – Part 1 “Presentation”, which I’ll summarize. Read her article to get the full sense of her thoughts.
Penny questions something I seldom think about, why do people leave Second Life? I tend to look for what keeps people in SL. The difference is in whether one looks for things to do more of or things to do less of to keep people interested. Looking at both is a good thing. Whatever, Penny decided to take a ‘comprehensive’ look at the reasons people leave.
Penny points to the quality, scale, and proportions of initial avatars provided by Linden Lab™ as a problem. The ideas were first presented in her article: A Matter of Perspective. She changed the presentation in: An Abridged Version. The ideas are the same. If you haven’t read either, check them out as they are classic for those of us looking to improve Second Life.
Ease of use – Pennies idea is that building with more uniformly sized avatars has advantages and improves the immersive quality of SL. Penny provides example of a 9’ monster beside a 7+ft human vs a 9’ monster and a 6’ human. The difference is striking. A well made point.
Getting the avatar properly sized allows us to use dimensions in the Build Panel from the sizes of things in the real world. If we measure a RL chair and build one in SL from those dimensions it would look right. That isn’t the case now. Penny’s thought is that troughs off new builders. I agree. I ran into that problem when I was new and trying to build.
Weak Build Panel – the Build Panel is the primary tool for anyone building in-world. That panel doesn’t really encourage to-scale building. For years the Appearance Editor has been a misleading tool as the Avatar Height was wrong. Currently it shows a 1.62m avatar as 5.3ft tall (5.3’= 5’-3.6”), which when converting meters to feet is correct numerically. To check that it reads correctly you need to make a prim that is 1.62m high (see ‘A’ in image below). Set it to Phantom and walk into it. About 20cm or 8” (0.6667ft) will stick out the top of the prim. This proves the Appearance Panel in the SL Viewer 3.4.2 (267137) Nov 19 2012 is wrong. It is disassociated from the rest of building in SL.
You can size the prim as I did in ‘B’ to get the true in world height of your avatar.
Adjusting the prim I find the 1.62m the Appearance Panel shows is 1.80m or 5.9’ or 5’-11”. That is an 8” or 20cm difference. Make a 20cm long cube and put it on your nose… its huge.
If you are into math, you can figure out height your avatar needs to be in Appearance to get the ‘real’ height right. Or I made the Model Shape Tool to help with making your avatar the right height and proportions. The Tool is the prim with me in a T-pose.
The current setting of the Shape Tool can be seen above it (5-11). The arrows at ‘A’ show where my semi transparent Tool has been dragged into my avatar, so I can more accurately size my avatar.