Darien’s Thinking on Avatar 2.0

There is an interesting post on SLUinverse about Avatar 2.0 by Darien Caldwell. See: A Modest Proposal: Moving toward Avatar 2.0.

Darien’s idea of making a new avatar compatible with the current avatar’s UVMaps is a deal breaker for me. That just drags those problems along. Fixing the UVMaps and attempting to use older clothing made for the previous UVMap is going to be a problem causing even more distortion.

Darien does key in on the layering problem. We can layer system clothes. We cannot layer textures on objects, like mesh avatar bodies. Adding that capability would likely be a complex change to the system. Whether it is or not, it would allow the use of even more textures. With the texture load increase coming from Materials use, that could be a serious lag producer.

I imagine that limits could be placed on texture sizes. System clothes are already limited to 512×512. We can have 10 of those now (5 per upper and lower body). With materials that would jump to 30 (add normal and specular to the mix). And how does one layer normal maps? Or specular maps? I don’t know of any system that does that.

The thread does bring out the problems associated with Avatar 2.0. I remain of the opinion that Avatar 2.0 is a ways off and will be a big project. This is a problem that has been pushed into the realm of a ‘comprehensive fix.’ The Lab is not going to do anything significant without addressing all the issues and establishing a plan that addresses most of the complaints of the user base.

9 thoughts on “Darien’s Thinking on Avatar 2.0

  1. worn textures get baked and then reserved as one texture tho, so theoretically if i wear 30 or just 1 you still get sent three 512 px textures that are composed of all the things i had on, but contain no extra data. but like you i am leary of dragging the UV maps along from the one armed one footed ankle mush miss thing. as for normal and specularity maps, hmmmm, must go read the piece.

  2. Basically… almost the same thing I’ve written here.
    http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Avatar_2.0

    And of course, that has been sitting there for a while, not much of interest to go around.

    • Interest on who’s part?

      Users are interested, but there is little point discussing it much. We know we have to wait on the Lab.

      The Lab isn’t ignoring the matter. They see AV2 as a huge project. I am guessing it a low priority in their schema of things.

      • It should be a bigger priority though for them, old users are used to the way the avatar looks, new users though, will expect a different standard.

        • Compared to the competition, the SL avatar is better, at least more photo-realistic. So, there is not a lot of pressure to change.

  3. If there is still a 512×512 limit on system clothing textures, it is going on somewhere “under the hood” after you apply the texture. There is no obstacle whatever to any step in uploading and applying a 1024×1024 texture to a system garment. I always reduced to 512 until another designer told me I could use 1024, and she always does, since her customers started getting more powerful computers and high resolution monitors. Because my products use highly detailed textures (fractals), I started doing it too and never had a problem.

    I remain mindful of texture “load” and only use 1024 where it matters, i.e. not on layers that are mostly solid color or covered by prims, and never on alpha layers. I don’t think my clothes are a massive load on servers. If more than one avatar on a sim happened to be wearing one of my creations, I would be gratified but VERY surprised.

    By the way, I tested 512 vs. 1024 to make sure there really is a difference in the finished product, and on my equipment and settings at least, the difference in quality is marked. I would be very surprised if any successful skin-maker right now is using anything smaller than 1024.

    • Nyx Linden tells us the the SSA engine reduces all avatar textures to 512×512. He is one of the principals in development of SSA. I think Nyx would know.

      I am surprised that you find a 1024 texture gives markedly better appearance. I’ll have to do some testing.

      If a 1024×1024 texture can be used (1024x1024x4=4,194,304bytes with 4=3 for RGB + 1 for alpha), then a head, upper, and lower will be three 4mb textures, 12 mb of texture. The SSA will combine the textures assigned to the 12 clothing slots that will hold 5 textures each or 60x4mb=251mb of textures to a 12mb final composite.

      However if Nyx is telling us correctly, 512x512x4=1,048,576 bytes for head, upper, and lower then only 3.1mb of texture is used. The 60 clothing textures shrinks to about 63mb for a saving of 188mb.

      The source for the skin and clothing textures now only affects the load on the SSA ovens.

      I would be surprised if the image compression used by the Lab is as good as PS or original design results. But, I’ll test the system with some test patterns. Alternating pixel rows of black and white on 1024 textures will reduce to a gray when changed to 512px. Zooming in I think that will be visible.

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