Friday, September 2, 2011

I bang on the strings just to drive him crazy, I strum it loud just to rattle his cage

We start off with an update of the post about which viewers are coded for mesh; though mostly, things haven't changed.

Phoenix: Not updated; not going to be updated for mesh. Ever.
Kirsten's Viewer: Kirsten's can still upload mesh on the Agni test grid, and see mesh in-world.
Singularity: Cannot see mesh; not updated.
CoolVL: Can see mesh; cannot upload mesh for test (or other) use.
Firestorm: Near as I can tell (because the Firestorm and Phoenix viewer links lead to the same page) Firestorm cannot see mesh yet.
Imprudence: Not updated for mesh, and while Kokua is still being discussed, it hasn't been released yet.
Emergence: Not updated, and won't be.
Restrained Love: No mesh, but Marine reverted the current build of the viewer to restore the build mode change that the Lindens switched (for no good reason, and with no announcements).
Rainbow: Not updated.
Ascent: Not only not updated, but now a dead viewer.
Dolphin: From the dev's "mesh myths" entry: That being said, I am working on a Dolphin Viewer with mesh support. I’m just not exactly rushing it. There you go.
Libretto: Not updated, and won't be.
METAbolt: Not updated, and won't be.
MobileGrid: Not updated, and won't be.
OMV: Linux only, hasn't been updated since May.
Pocket Metaverse: Not updated, won't be updated.
Radegast: Likely won't be updated for mesh, and isn't updated now.
Sparkle: Not updated, won't be updated (Sparkle, Pocket Metaverse and MobileGrid are iPhone/iTouch apps anyway).

So there it is. Pretty dismal still, on the viewing side of things, and really dismal for creators, who are pretty much limited just to Kirsten's Viewer and the official SL Viewer 3.x. From the mesh entry on the Dolphin viewer page again:
As of last week, 2/3 of the Second Life population is running viewers that do not support mesh. And about half of them run viewer versions that are so old that I’d like to think that those people would rather cancel their accounts than upgrade to anything from this decade. Add to that what I’ve seen on the SL Merchants group chat, and I’ll have to conclude that at least half of the grid has not even heard of mesh yet. How sad is that?
Pretty damned sad, but this is one I have a really hard time not blaming on the Lindens. They outsourced Viewer 2; very few of the in-world population liked it (even the educators and estate owners bitched about having to use it, with some educators/estate owners switching to third-party viewers as SOON as they'd updated to viewer 2 features); and they wouldn't back down.

Listen, Lindens, I realize, you sunk a ton of cash into a project you thought would be revolutionary, and you just didn't anticipate the backlash. But, rather than working with people, trying to find out what they could cope with, and what they utterly refused to just kept pushing Viewer 2.

And now it's Viewer 3, with even more bonehead changes made (including one that pretty much cripples builders on the grid who use it), and the ability to see mesh. I predict you'll have a lot of downloads to try it out, and maybe 25% of new Viewer 3 users will stay with Viewer 3. The rest? Back to whatever does--or doesn't--work for them, because that's what they know, and they don't trust Linden Labs anymore.

And how sad is that, Lindens? You've eroded so much trust in your native population that--even to see mesh builds at all--they'd rather wait until Firestorm updates to allow mesh viewing. You rolled out the shiny new toy, and by and large, no one cares.

That, to me, is almost heartbreakingly tragic.

On how mesh is looking itself: clear back in August one of the denizens of SL Universe was asking how mesh actually looked, after it went live. Demo pictures followed (with the unspoken codicil we now know, that mesh clothing cannot be modified at all, and mesh clothing must use a shape similar to the creator's shape used, for it to be seen in the same way. As many bloggers have pointed out, the parade of clones will now commence.

There's also a mention of a nonhuman av, and that one also breaks my heart. It's a Curious Kitties freebie, and I'm pretty glad now neither I, nor anyone else, paid money for that, because look at the unsoftened planes in that thing! That I wouldn't wear for love or money; in fact, when I get in world, that one's being auto-deleted from my inventory as soon as I track it down. Tragedy.

As has been pointed out (also on that thread), all anyone needs to do to find mesh on the Marketplace is search for it, but here's another tragedy--say I buy one of the dress templates. (I'm not dealing with the cost of most mesh full-perm items; the actual cost of it aside I'll pay for good templates, but seriously, three thousand for one miniskirt is pushing it.) I take it into Zbrush, paint a texture on, open Gimp, bake that texture with shadowing, then take the finished product back into--oh wait. Because it's not a sculpt, I can't just save it as an .obj file, I have to save it as a Collada (.dae) file. Okay, saved as Collada, now I upload it--oh, wait. I can't just upload it, I have to download Viewer 3. Okay, I download Viewer 3, and now I just--

Oh, right. Because I have to be payment-verified, and go through the Mesh IP Tutorial, before I can be authorized to do anything with mesh uploading, anywhere.

Now, more to see how I'd do than anything, I went through the tutorial as I'm already payment-verified. Currently it consists of ten fairly easy (to me, because I've researched a lot about copyright law) questions, but I'm not sure if you can get approved only if you get all ten right, because I got all ten right. There was one interesting bit, though--one of the questions states a premise of Barbara, content creator of copyright-infringing objects, having her mesh objects deleted from the grid, yet other creators of similar copyright-infringing objects not being deleted:
Linden Lab removed Barbara's meshes or other Second Life content but did not remove other similar content. This could be because...
Linden Lab has not discovered or been notified by a rights owner about similar content.
Barbara doesn't have a premium account.
The other similar content is prettier than Barbara's content.
Now, I admit, in the beginning, I got the impression that to upload mesh objects at all, you had to be a premium account holder. I can't remember if that was a rumor or fact at this point, however. But that first option stunned me slightly. Not because it's not true, but because I've called out the Labs on these pages about pulling some content but not others, or pulling some content but not all.

Let's use Nike as an example. While they're pretty fierce about protecting their IP with magazine ads, movies and television shows, I'm fairly convinced Second Life is off their radar. (As are works of literary fiction, which amuses me.) Warner Brothers, on the other hand, does follow Second Life developments--or at least, those developments listed on SL Marketplace--but their blind spot is stopping at the first item that catches their attention. Whomever the code monkey is who was assigned to guarding SL variants of WB products either isn't particularly skilled, or is pretty scattershot in how they work.

But this is also how DMCA works--you have to be specific. You can't just claim a DMCA violation against all products using the swoosh, you have to name precise companies and individuals in violation. It's a lot of paperwork. It's also gearing up to a potential legal battle, which no one really, honestly, wants, but because of that, the paperwork has to be legally accurate, and enforceable in an RL court of law. For some companies, for some violations, it's just not worth it to send out the cease-and-desists. This doesn't mean they don't care about their IP rights, or that it's "okay" to use these products names and ideas. It just means those companies haven't figured out what's going on in SL yet, or just don't care about what they perceive as 'only a game'.

So big companies--if they notice what's in SL at all--will pick one single avatar, and tell the Labs No. This one has to stop doing what they're doing. And the Labs comply, with that one avatar, but no others. Who might be making similar content, or the exact same content, but aren't named as specifically violating parties.

It gets really cumbersome.

There's been some great advancements in mesh, to be sure--Loki Eliot (mentioned by name because yep, I want people to track down his store) put up an entire entry with video to demonstrate his coming mesh clothing line. And it does look really good, but watch that video carefully--mesh will still clip. And it will likely clip worse with a shape that isn't Loki's, because Loki designed all those items to fit his small avatar shape, and no one else's.

Alexandra over at the Alexandra's Choice blog had another entry on mesh--Jane, like Curious Kitties, being one of the first big entries in the mesh wars--with another video showing how well the long striped jersey dress moves. But again, this will only work if the creator's shape closely approximates your own, or you wear it with alpha concealing layers. (Which only work IF you're in a viewer that allows multiple system-layer attachments, which some viewers don't.)

That's the biggest challenge of mesh for me--how am I, with my highly customized short shape, going to fit into rigged mesh clothing designed for people taller, thinner and/or hippier than I am? Plus, there's the fact that I still can't walk around in mesh items and be seen. It's frustrating.

(Oh, and just because it amuses me, at least one owner of Meeroos say they're crack addicts. Hee!)


Icterus Dagger said...

I realize the English language can be rather imprecise with the use of "they" as a pronoun, but could you clarify? Are Meeroos crack addicts or are Meeroo OWNERS crack addicts?

At least as long as mesh is still so borked, I can still be the happy (if poor) hobbyist I am. Yay, me.


Emilly Orr said...

Oh, neither; the photographer in question just rezzed out a crack pipe next to one of her sweet widdle wuvs. :)

As far as collection = addiction, truthfully, I think any manageable amount--for your land--is okay. You own an entire sim, and you want a stable of twelve horses, groovy.

You own a 2048 parcel that you're renting from someone else, and you want 65 Meeroos--you're a jerk.

It's pretty cut and dried for me.

Edward Pearse said...

I was told this evening about the Astra Viewer. I've not heard of it before but apparently it's based on Phoenix but they've supposedly installed the ability to view mesh on a V.1 style viewer.

I haven't researched it further but thought you might be interested. :-)