I have way too much stuff, and spend too much money in SL, but I really couldn’t resist this cute latex outfit by Violent Seduction that is their current Fifty Linden Fridays (FLF) offering.
There is a Darks Pack and a Lights pack, each of which is L$50 and is for just one body. So if, like me, you use the Maitreya Lara body then you buy the Maitreya pack.
Shown in my pic is the HUD you get with the Darks pack, since that’s the one I bought.
Note: The HUD gives the impression that there is a slider giving a sliding scale between fully solid and fully sheer, but this is not the case. The ‘slider’ is just a divider, and ‘SOLID’ and ‘SHEER’ are buttons.
The hair I am wearing is by Truth and was a VIP Group Gift.
[First published 20-Mar-2012, updated 05-Jul-2017]]
You know how it is; you’re out shopping, you don’t have enough L$, so your cursor heads up to that familiar button in the top right of the screen labelled “Buy L$”. It’s so easy, it’s so convenient, and it’s so quick.
But, wait! That convenience comes at a price. You are buying L$ at whatever rate Linden Lab feel like giving you, and that’s not the best rate.
What do I mean by rate? Well, when you go abroad you often convert some of your normal currency into the currency used by the country you’re going to visit, and you are offered an exchange rate. In other words you buy some of that currency, just like you might purchase any other service or ‘thing’. And, just like buying anything, different people have different prices and it is a good idea to shop around for the best price.
It’s not just limited to people going on holiday either – there’s a whole area of Finance called “Foreign Exchange” (often abbreviated to ForEx or FX) that deals with this.
It’s a less-known fact that Second Life has its own little Foreign Exchange Market, called the Linden Exchange (or LindeX for short) which is accessed via the Second Life website.
Here people buy and sell L$ using US$. And it is here where you can get more L$ for your US$.
So, how does this differ from the good old in-world “Buy L$” button on your Viewer? Well, it’s way less convenient I will admit, although I find it kind of fun! But you have the reward of getting more L$ for your US dollars by being able to shop for the best price, which is what it’s all about.
Instead of just converting US$ to L$, you offer to buy L$ for a certain amount of US$. This is known as a Limit Buy which is a conditional purchase. You are offering to buy L$ from one or more people who are selling for a certain price or better. On the LindeX your offer will stay open until it is either ‘Filled’ (ie. the transaction completes successfully) or until you cancel it.
Depending on how aggressive your Offer Price is, how long it takes to fill could be measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days or never! Also, for larger purchases, you may get a partial fill, which is when more than one seller fulfils part of your order as no single seller is selling at the price you want to pay in the quantity you want to buy. The remaining unfilled amount keeps the order open until all of the order fills.
(If you’re interested in further reading, then some of the basics of ForEx are available here, although it is in no way needed and I only provide it for your interest because I think I’ve covered enough here already)
[Originally posted on 14-Apr-2012, updated 20-Jun-2017]
I’ve been trying to reduce my prim count at my home in SL, and one of the things I figured I could improve on is the pictures hanging on my wall. I’ve got 4 walls of pictures, and each has 3-5 pictures on it, each one on its own prim. So I could see some good savings there.
But how to reduce that number?
Well, a picture is just a texture on a prim. And a wall is also just a texture on a prim. So why not combine the two? Bake the pictures onto the texture of the wall itself.
However, unless you really are pinching every single prim, I think it is better to spend an extra prim per wall and create a transparent veneer onto which you bake your pictures. Think of it as a single picture frame prim that happens to contain multiple pictures. I will refer to this as a “veneer prim” or “veneer” for the rest of the article as it covers the wall just like a wood veneer. However, as I will shortly explain, it is actually preferable for it to be smaller than the wall itself but that doesn’t alter the fact that it is a veneer of sorts.
Back then I predicted that clothing would get ever more difficult to make and that more and more clothes would end up being made by fewer and fewer designers, and that we’d get a stagnation of the clothing market. However, when I wrote that, Fitted Mesh was in its infancy and it was unclear where it would go. And where it went was Mesh bodies. Of course this is probably not news to you as Mesh bodies have been ‘mainstream’ for over a year, apparently. I say ‘apparently’ as I haven’t been very active on SL for the past year so I am playing catch-up.
As you are probably aware, there are now a number of competing Fitted Mesh bodies available from designers like SLink, Maitreya, TMP (The Mesh Project), Belleza, and the like. A Fitted Mesh body is essentially a bodysuit that completely replaces your body (which is now being referred to as ‘Classic body’) by using an Alpha Mask to make your Classic body invisible from the neck down. Unlike with Rigged Mesh, the Fitted Mesh responds to the sliders for modifying your body (no more “standard sizes”), which in theory should mean that you still have full control over your shape and look. However, it is of much higher quality and much more realistic than the Classic body shape. In short, it is what Linden Lab should have done themselves with the Classic body.
Mesh clothing compatible with these bodies is available, and older Rigged Mesh clothing will still fit, albeit with some tweaking and the use of additional alpha masks to mask off parts of the Mesh body. How this is achieved varies by body, and some are more clunky than others. I’ll leave it up to you to research further.
For tattoos, skins, and indeed any other texture (which of course includes System Clothing textures), the designer has to provide an “applier” that is compatible with the Mesh body. An applier is essentially a script that tells the Mesh body how to paint the texture onto it. You’re probably no stranger to appliers if you have used Phat Az, Lola’s Tango and other body modifications that pre-date Fitted Mesh.
Without an applier, the texture will be worn by the Classic body which of course is hidden when you are wearing a Mesh body.
There is an applier specific to each designer’s body, but there is also an ‘Omega’ applier system which is a universal (and free) system understood by many Mesh bodies. If your body is Omega compatible (many are, with the exception of a few such as TMP and SLink Physique) you can use Omega appliers on your body.
So, with all that background information out of the way, it is time to talk about the actual subject of this post. Which, ironically, will take far fewer words to achieve than the preamble.
I recently made friends with someone and she was showing me some of her outfits, and I noticed that some of her clothes were what only a few years ago would have been dismissed as rather out-dated pre-Mesh texture clothing. Only she had fairly recently bought them because they looked ok to her, but crucially had appliers for her Mesh body.
And this got me thinking about my old post where I said that texture-only clothing designers were being left behind. Suddenly this is no longer the case. All a texture-only designer needs to do now to bring their clothing to a whole new audience is to master the ability to provide appliers. From what I can see, this is fairly straightforward and is certainly way easier than making Rigged Mesh.
My personal feelings on texture-only clothing haven’t really changed – I still think it is immensely hard to make it look realistic and even harder to give the impression of 3D shapes with only a 2D texture – and this is never more the case than with things like buckles, clasps, and the like. These will always look better implemented in a 3D medium such as prims or sculpts (in the past) and Mesh (now), but as I have previously pointed out this is much, much harder to achieve. However, traditional 2D texture clothing applied to a Mesh body certainly looks better than when applied to a Classic body – there is less of that awful distortion and glitching that really ruin it, and it definitely gives it a new lease of life to the extent that you could feel happy to wear it.
So, in summary, I think that the clothing market may have opened up somewhat because right now there is a big demand for reasonably-priced texture-only clothing that can be applied to a Mesh body. And, furthermore, texture clothing simply looks better on a Mesh body than on a Classic body to the extent that it is acceptable to wear again.
Maybe there is a place for the small hobbyist designer making texture-only clothing after all. And that has to be a good thing, because the vitality of Second Life depends on user-generated content.
Edit: Just to clarify, the creator of texture clothing must produce an Applier for you. There is currently no way of simply applying existing texture clothing to your mesh body, so unless the creator of your old pre-mesh texture clothing makes an Applier available, you’re out of luck.
The above was written before we had Bakes on Mesh (BoM). Now that we have BoM it is no longer necessary to have an Applier and you can apply old texture-based system clothing directly to your Mesh body. The circle is now complete, and if you have old system clothing that you want to wear again, then you can just do so. Same for tats as well. It also means that those sellers who didn’t even bother to learn how to make Appliers can now just resell their ancient system clothing unmodified.
WARNING: Many of the these links contain digital nudity and are NSFW.
Before I start this post, I’d just like to point out that this is old news. I’m not adding anything new here but the reason I am writing this is that many friends and acquaintances haven’t been aware of the current direction that mesh deformers are taking, so this article is a convenient place to direct people to. It seeks to be a fairly short and easily-digested article, which links to further reading.
Mesh has been around for a while now, and I think most people have decided where they are with it. At one end of the spectrum we have people who pretty much won’t wear any rigged mesh unless it just happens to fit them “as is” and at the other end of the spectrum we have people willing to have a different version of their shape for almost every outfit they own. And I’m not exaggerating here; two of my closest friends fall into those two extremes.
It’s clear that the Standard Sizes are far from perfect. They were a reasonable workaround to the problem of Rigged Mesh being uneditable, but they are not a solution. Many people (myself included) have been extremely reluctant to alter their natural shape, feeling that the whole point of Second Life is to be who we want to be and that clothes should fit to us and not us to the clothes.
One of the first people to propose a solution was Karl Stiefvater (Qarl Fizz) who proposed the Mesh Deformer project (also known as the Parametric Deformer), which was successfully Crowd Funded and which Karl put a lot of work into. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people know about this project and of those, a majority are wondering why it hasn’t made it into the Official Viewer yet.
However, it was by no means the only solution and Redpoly Inventor proposed rigging garments to the “collision bones” of the avatar skeleton, which is what evolved into “Liquid Mesh”. The shortcomings of this in its current state is that really there aren’t enough “collision bones” to do a proper job and because it is not officially supported by Linden Lab, it was an unofficial solution and hence prone to breakage in the future.
However, on 20-Nov-2013, Linden Lab posted an entry on their blog entitled Making Mesh Garments Fit Better outlining how they intend to officially adopt the “Liquid Mesh” approach and develop it further, adding additional custom bones in order to overcome the shortcomings of the current approach.
Where does this leave Karl’s Mesh Deformer? Well, parked up and thrown away essentially although one could argue that perhaps it spurred Linden Lab into action and Karl has said that he thinks that what LL is proposing is the technically simpler solution (although is correspondingly more complex for content creators). You can read more on an article that Inara Pey wrote, which includes an analysis of it all and also quotes Karl’s response to the news. If you don’t follow her blog then I would really recommend it as it is always very well written and very in-depth.
It will be interesting to see how quickly Linden Lab progress this. It’s way overdue, and the sooner we get an official (and effective) solution to the issue of garment deformation the better.
Initially I based my shape changes on Standard Size ‘Small’, but after a couple of weeks I have realised that ‘Medium’ (with some modifications) is closer to my desired shape, as ‘Small’ lost too many of my curves and made me look skinny. I’ve therefore updated this article accordingly.
After a long absence from Second Life, I’m kind of rediscovering it again.
One of the reasons for this is that I have finally bitten the bullet, so to speak, and created a copy of my shape and made it compatible with Standard Sizing. Although this seems like a massive climb-down from my previous stance on not wanting to change my shape, the thing that influenced my decision (quite apart from the desire to wear more modern clothing) is that there are surprisingly few parameters you need to change in order to have something that is broadly compatible with one of the Standard Sizes.
I chose to bring mine closer to the ‘Medium’ size, which meant adjusting the following parameters:
Body Fat: 11 (15)
Torso Muscle: 38 (38)
Breast Size: 58 (54)
Love Handles: 31 (11) [Note: I chose not change this]
Belly Size: 6 (2)
Leg Muscle: 56 (42) [Note: Again, I chose not to change this]
Butt Size: 44 (45)
Saddle Bags: 36 (41)
(Figures shown in brackets are what my normal size was)
The two things that looked awfully wrong with that were the Love Handles and Leg Muscle values, which I chose to leave unchanged. The former gives me the more curvy look I prefer, and I predict should not affect many clothes as the important thing is not to clip, although obviously some clothes will hide my narrower waist and make me look slightly shapeless. Some crop tops may require a “half-way house” version with more waist in order to look right.
With the Leg Muscles value, I figured that this would predominantly affect only boots and I could go for S or XS ones for that.
I have to say that I am really encouraged by the fact that I still look like “me” after the changes, and I’d encourage anyone else holding off from Rigged Mesh clothing to try similar (assuming your shape is modifiable). It has really opened up the doors to a whole new round of shopping in SL for me. And you know how much I love shopping!
I managed to make a comparison pic using an animated GIF. You can see the differences between my natural shape, the adjustment for Medium, and the Small from the original. Whilst I still prefer my natural shape, the Medium one is an acceptable compromise.
Having previously said that I am not a great fan of Rigged Mesh, I’m slowly starting to discover things that I like, and that fit me (or fit near enough that a minor tweak is all that is needed). In this case it’s this lovely dress by Baiastice and hair by elikatira (I still want to say ETD, which dates me I guess!).
The dress is lovely, but not without limitations. For a start you can’t wear shoes with it, and I love shoes! The other is that occasionally when dancing, you can see that it’s invisible inside and that I have invisible legs. I guess that’s an intrinsic issue with Rigged Mesh.
In the 5½ years I have been in SL, I’ve experienced the usual ebb and flow of interest that I think most long-timers do, but I’ve found myself in a particularly long ebb lately, to the extent that I felt I was mainly logging on in order to be with my SL hubby. He had been feeling much the same, and sadly a few weeks ago announced to me that a number of factors, including increased workload, RL, and this same lack of engagement, meant he did not know when he would next be logging into SL again. We’d been together well over a year, which is a long time in Second Life terms. We still email each other every day (he never fails to leave an email for me when he goes to bed so that it is waiting for me when I wake up), but I have no idea when I will see him again in SL.
Since then I have gone from logging in every day to rarely logging in, and when I do log in it’s been for a specific reason such as a music event (usually the wonderful Gina Gracemount or the amazing Tukso Okey) or to spend time with my friend Bunny. But most of the time, I find that other things are holding my interest more. My own RL has got a little busier and is filling my evenings more, such that I don’t have as much time available to spend on SL. But the fact is that if I was bursting to go on SL, like I once was, then I know I would find the time. So this really corroborates what Inara is saying.
Perhaps I should be trying to find new things in SL to experience, maybe increase my circle of friends, perhaps try to re-ignite my love of SL photography. But I just find myself without any real motivation to do so. My SL photography is particularly depressing, because I can take ages (hours, even) over a SL picture and then find myself lucky to get 200 views in a month, yet with my RL photography I can post a picture of me in a nice dress and get 200 views in a day. I’m not saying that in a self-aggrandising way, but to illustrate how soul-destroying that is for the SL photography. I have a very similar experience with blogging.
So where does this leave me, where does it leave my SL, my SL photography and also this blog? I don’t know. Certainly this is the first time since August 2012 where I’ve felt I have had anything I wanted to say and I don’t know when I next will either.
Well, perhaps not quite. But Linden Lab has made an announcement that Second Life will be expanding to Steam ‘in the next month or so’.
The announcement reads: “As some sharp-eyed developers have speculated, we’re going to make Second Life available on Steam in the next month or so.
Many of us have friends who are avid Steam gamers, but if you’re not familiar, Steam is a very popular online game platform that offers a wide range of titles (and will soon also offer other software as well).
What does this news mean for Second Life? You’ll still be able to access Second Life just as you can today; there won’t be any change to that. But, the more than 40 million people who use Steam will also be able to get Second Life as easily as they can get games like Portal.
We’ll make an announcement on the blog when Second Life is actually available on Steam, but in the meantime, if you have friends who are Steam gamers, let ‘em know it’s coming!”
This is a very interesting announcement, given that Valve have recently announced that they will soon be allowing non-games applications to join Steam. This does give an ambiguity as to whether Linden Lab are continuing to move Second Life towards a games platform or whether this is simply a case of them taking advantage of Valve’s more relaxed policy on what applications can join Steam.
Certainly there is a strong case that Steam has a high density of the kind of people who have the computer hardware necessary to run Second Life at its most graphically-intense settings, so raising awareness of the Second Life platform on Steam may have benefits.
However, I see a less positive side to it too. As anyone who has read my previous articles will know, I have a strong sense of wanting to live my ‘second’ life unencumbered by the trappings of my first. And I view this (hopefully optional!) integration with Steam as being yet more example of the lines between SL and RL being blurred. Steam is a real life service, with your real identity (although ‘handles’ / nicknames are allowed). And it strengthens the concept that SL is just yet another service that you create a username and password for.
Having said that, as someone who has played Skyrim a lot (which is a Steam game), I didn’t feel that it was RL ‘me’ playing it – I created a character and advanced her though the game. So perhaps I am unduly concerned here. Perhaps all will work out ok. But I do still have this nagging feeling that entering SL via Steam will make people think it is just another game, or MMPORG and I feel that would miss the point of Second Life being a Virtual World and not a game. Or, certainly how it started out anyway. I’m not so sure what it is now or where it is going.
(All in my opinion, of course)
[With thanks to Inara Pey for her blog article that alerted me to this]
Some interesting (and long) articles that give further insight into the ramifications of this move. Really worth reading if you have the time:
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