Wednesday, June 13, 2012

and the night goes by so very slow (part II)

Picking up where we left off:

[8:19:15 PM] Fxxxxx Axxxx: And I'm definitely noticing some slight anger at users for constantly bashing him for doing what he could to get it out at *all*. [8:19:25 PM] Emilly Orr: We need people who are Lindens ON THE GROUND as opposed to in the ivory tower
[8:19:26 PM] Axxxxxxxx Rxxxxx: most of them don't KNOW that, though
[8:19:37 PM] Axxxxxxxx Rxxxxx: I know that NOW but didn't before reading that thread
[8:19:45 PM] Fxxxxx Axxxx: "Some other Lindens spend hours and hours in SL a week, outside of their job. They have a grip. We knew clothes would be a hit, but if I'd kept everything we needed to fix/build, none of the project would have been released.

I've said it before, and for some reason got mocked, but I am sorry I couldn't get it done, and so were the hardworking folks on the projects"
[8:19:46 PM] Axxxxxxxx Rxxxxx: they don't communicate, how are we supposed to know?

And that remains the single biggest failure of Linden Lab with SL: the lack of effective communication. As I've said before, they have a lot of social media accounts at this point; a blog; the entirety of the Linden forums; a web site; and the log-in screen on each game. Any of these avenues could be used to foster better communication. Few of them ever are.

[8:20:40 PM] Fxxxxx Axxxx: I imagine he's not too happy with the Lindens who just 'work' there.

Honestly, I'd be frustrated too. Someone has to come up with the taste profiles for dog food, sure, but someone also has to test it to see if they match the intent. Which gives us two options: either Linden Lab needs to stop making dog food, or they need to hire more end-result testers. Either way, they're limping along as they are.

[8:21:05 PM] Fxxxxx Axxxx: But that definitely comes across as, "I tried, I did, but you aren't all helping by saying how stupid and ignorant and horrible I am."
[8:21:09 PM] Axxxxxxxx Rxxxxx: I can *totally* understand that sentiment
[8:22:46 PM] Fxxxxx Axxxx: I also get Char is basically saying, "Look, stop blaming us, we open these Beta tests to everyone. It's not *our* fault the fucking clothing designers decided to NOT DO SHIT."
[8:23:10 PM] Axxxxxxxx Rxxxxx: And yea, totally get THAT too - if they were involved, they should have spoken up
[8:25:13 PM] Fxxxxx Axxxx I do feel he should have just removed rigging until the system could be properly used, but I also know how many people would have been pissed.

As Charlar noted in an earlier comment, yes. But it's also worth noting to bring up Tali Rosca's comments concerning mesh, the deformer, and the Mesh Around hunt I've been covering on this blog. She has a definite point, and it's one I wish the Lindens would have listened to. Because even my friends in the fashion community didn't hear about the call for standardized shapes. So what did the Lindens get to work with? 'Based on a random grouping of 500 avatars'--which 500 avatars? And I can guarantee there were no nonhumans in the group, no Tinies, no furs--that it was 500 twig-thin females that were picked "at random". Frankly, that sounds targeted, and not "random" in the least.

[8:26:15 PM] Fxxxxx Axxxx: No one listens to the Lindens, and while some of that is on previous experience, a lot of it is still just that people don't listen well, and they listen less when they get into a mob.

Which is always going to be the case. From the blog again, and Pussycat Catnap:
A -LOT- of bad alphas contribute to this feeling of alphas as cop-outs.
There are plenty of outfits in my collection now where from certain angles, if I use their alpha, I see empty space.
Things like a gap between a skirt and my body, making me look like a genie floating above the skirt, or gaps around the neckline of an outfit – so that in a camera angle from above there is space between what’s left of my chest and the outfit.
  • - This can happen when using a standard size shape for a standard sized outfit; which just points to shoddy alpha-maps. Builders need to constrain alpha maps back to the spots that will poke through, and not to the entire space under the outfit.
  • - Which in turns requires they have a known quantity to work with in terms of the shape underneath so that they can predict what will pop through.
While I agree with this, what's really going on with this perception? What she's saying, point by point:
  • Designers are frequently crap for designing alpha layers. I saw this over, and OVER and over again for the Mesh Around hunt.
  • The default position of erasing the entire section of body underneath any mesh item strikes me as somewhat lazy, to be honest. But also, is this what mesh creators are being told, that they MUST block out the entire body to make a mesh pair of pants, say? I'm flashing back to shoe designers, and how easy it is to distinguish between people who know exactly what the alpha layer should hide, and people who have no clue. I think the same thing's going on for mesh designers. Now granted, I've used alpha effects to get some fun alterations on occasion--things like blocking out my legs in a cybernetic skirt so I look like I'm floating, or erasing the back of my head if I'm wearing some headgear that ends far before the back of my head would. But those are novelty uses for alpha layers.
  • Designers should use better alpha layer construction, but then we're back to--are designers being taught what makes a good alpha layer?
These are all points to ponder.

From the blog, and Maeve's comment:
Badly designed alphas don’t help customer confidence at all… something I wish all merchants would do is to make their alpha masks full mod/copy perms (not sure if trans is needed?) – so that residents who are capable can at least tweak an alpha for themselves in a graphics program. Surely this is no danger to merchants' IP in that regard (alpha mask only), but just a gesture of goodwill towards customers.

Quite possibly merchants aren’t aware of this need or potential.

And yah, a GOOD alpha mask allows for a "moat" between the edge of the mesh clothing and where the alpha itself shows on the AV – to avoid that awful invisible fringe effect.
This was something that perpetually frustrated me on the Mesh Around hunt, which means I'm going to be frustrated in the larger realm of mesh items, as well: bad alphas that were no-modify. While it's perfectly possible to mock out my own alpha layers, given a general idea of what's needed--I shouldn't have to just to wear clothes. All alpha layers should be modifiable for mesh items.

And Charlar in reply:
Your points about alpha layers are very true – it reminds me that we were working on some "best practices" docs with some residents just before I got axed. To be more specific, THEY were working on them and we were going to review and publish them on the wiki. Sadly I don’t remember the volunteers doing the work and can’t look them up now to see. I still think that would be really helpful in raising the overall bar for quality. Better artists/designers will still shine, but having the general state of mesh clothing improved will help with customer confidence.
While that's worth reading--which is why I quoted it here--there's a far more important statement dropped like a stone in the middle of this paragraph:
it reminds me that we were working on some "best practices" docs with some residents just before I got axed.
So--and testing understanding, here--the Linden who was responsible for mesh coming to the grid at all, who was stymied by the lack of Linden assistance and who felt (and likely still feels) that mesh was rushed out too early--was fired from the company.

And my biggest question is, why?

Finally, the last comment on that entry from Nalates herself:
The Lindens do listen. The problem is residents often do not understand a subject/issue. The residents often present insane ideas, fail to understand the costs (labor, money, PR) involved in what they ask for, and do more drama than rational thought. So, the Lindens don’t give us a lot of credibility for very good reasons. In many ways they are like parents we disagree with. They are going to do what they think is best all around.

They do read blogs, the forums, JIRA reports, and talk with various residents, both as Lindens and their secret Alts. They don’t read all of them and not everyday the ones they do read. They seldom respond to blogs and forum posts because of the drama. There are Linden haters that take every opportunity to spin anything a Linden says in the worst way. That tends to restrict conversation from Lindens.

In this case Oz Linden is taking in a lot of feedback on the Deformer. While I put this poll up in the hope of shifting his opinion, it may do more to shift my opinion. Mesh Clothes do seem to be fitting better than I thought.
I'd vastly disagree on that last point, but I think she's right on the rest. The Lindens read blogs, read the forums, interact in world (those few who actually log in, I mean)--and sure, it wouldn't be in their best interests to comment on most blog/forum entries unless there's a desire for direct feedback, but that doesn't mean improving their own communications--as a developing body--means nothing, either. The "official" channels are fairly useless for two big reasons:

  • very few residents read those official channels;
  • and Lindens post things in less than accessible places, where the bulk of residents who do read those official channels won't see.

Neither of these are especially good at fostering the impression that the Lindens actually listen to comments and complaints at all.

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