Second Life Materials Update 2013-5

You may have noticed the RC channel Blue Steel is running the server side of the Materials System update. While there is no Project Viewer available yet, this suggests that it is getting close. What more confidently suggests the nearing release are these screen shots of Materials in use.

Materials System in Action - Normal & Specular - Enlarge

Materials System in Action – Normal & Specular – Enlarge

The above image shows an interesting surface. I think that is a simple cube with a normal map. 

More Normal & Specular mapping - Enlarge

More Normal & Specular mapping – Enlarge

This is an obvious simple cube. The Specular properties have changed to make it appear a matt texture.

From an earlier time...

From an earlier time…

You have likely seen this object before. It is the one used in the original announcement of the project.

These images are from Geenz Spad, the lead on the Materials Project.

According to Geenz, most of the render pipeline is ready. Also, the User Interface is complete except for some polishing. So, we can expect to see a Project Viewer real soon. I think that means 2 to 4 weeks. But, there could be surprises that slow things down.

10 thoughts on “Second Life Materials Update 2013-5

  1. Very awesome.

    Hear anything about the inclusion of new LSL functions, and/or modifications of existing ones to support materials? i.e. PRIM_TEXTURE_* flags for the primitive params functions?

  2. I have been talking a little with Geenz Spad and he asked me some questions regarding specular. As most of us know, specular maps usually are greyscale maps where bright [white] is used to determine how much amount of light reflects. Well, seems that in SL we will use specular maps with colors, where color will add color (obviously) to the reflected lights while the brightness of the image will be used to calculate the amount of specular [light reflected]. But what [is] more surprising and I really liked is that the alpha channel on the images used as specular maps will work as environment reflection maps. This will give us a really totally new experience at time of when making reflective materials, something that will help to match the ambient color.

    What I dont know and I did forget to ask is, how those materials will act if they are turned transparent. Since we will not have any kind of normal map working on transparent surfaces acting like “glass”, I would like that specular, or at least the environment maps, could work on them (kinda like Niran’s Viewer does on surfaces with alpha) so we get some reflections on transparent surfaces wich actually looks ver “empty”.

    [edited for clarity]

    • I hope you don’t mind the edits.

      Thanks for the information. It sounds like those features will make it much easier to get impressive builds within the limitations of SL.

    • How specularity works is this:
      Light is received by a surface
      A portion of that light is then reflected off of the surface
      Depending on the reflective properties of the surface, the reflected light may be of different colors than the light its self (a phenomena known as iridescence), or it’ll be the same color as the light its self

      Most game engines are going for colored specular maps largely because it makes simulating phenomena such as iridescence trivial. From a performance standpoint, it’s on par with using grayscale specular maps. While you are correct that a grayscale specular map stores the intensity of the light to be reflected, colored specular maps applies the same principle across multiple color channels. That said, the alpha channel of the specular map will *only* act as a mask for the existing environment map, it will not be used to define a custom environment map. Just making sure that’s out there to hopefully avoid confusion over the matter.

      With regards to alpha mapped objects. I’m working on getting materials working with alpha mapped objects. I’m not making any promises on this, but it is something for me to try and do.

        • Oh yeah, re-reading the whole text, it sounds like the alpha channel will be used as environment map, Im sorry. What I really meant is what Geenz Spad wrote, they will act as “mask” for where environment maps will reflect (probably, the more white [let’s say opaque] the more will reflect).

          And sorry for my bad text, your corrections are great and I feel sorry that made you to correct mu whole text. I write them always at very late when I read your blog and not being native english doesn’t help too much.

          Also thanks to Geenz Spad for the update. He surely is doing a great job here and even making materials to work on transparent surfaces! (maybe). Even if at the end they not work on transparent surfaces, you are at least trying and that already is more than someone could expect. So many thanks and looking forward!

          • Don’t worry about the grammar. You do pretty well. I only corrected it because I thought it would be unclear to some unfamiliar with the subject. Normally that is not the case.

      • When you referred to alpha-mapped objects, are you referring to getting specular/shine to show up on surfaces which use alpha textures? If so, I’ll be looking forward to it, because I’ve been waiting years for shiny glass.

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