29 June 2013

Strawberry Singh's Proportions Challenge

Strawberry Singh's been running a meme the past few years about avatar shapes. This year's entry is on proportions. It seemed like an opportunity for me to talk a little about mine.

First, here's the picture:

My shape was created by Strahl Parx, owner of the Chained Tail club for furries. The design concept was that I am an athletic tigress, not so much a voluptuous one. After all, a tigress must stay in top physical condition in order to catch prey. I'm also deliberately tall. An alpha tigress is a big kitty. Still, it's intended to be blatantly, in-your-face sexy, with more than a little dominance thrown in. I'm very happy with it.

I'll also note that the Avatar Ruler is quite accurate, unlike the average scripted height detector. How do I know this? Because it agrees exactly with the height display in the Firestorm shape editor, and I spent a couple of days playing with that to get it exactly right using prims as rulers instead of depending on the size reported by LSL.

And now for Strawberry's questions:

  1. Do you try and keep your avatar’s body proportionate and similar to the “average” proportions in the meme post? – No. Then again, I don't tweak my shape much at all, so it looks good as is and doesn't get changed.
  2. What do you dislike the most about the SL avatar mesh? – The weighting and UV mapping cause problems, especially around the upper thighs, crotch, and center of the chest. This has been bothering clothing designers for years, and especially makes it next to impossible to make a leotard look like what you actually look like wearing one in RL. The upper thighs deform very badly, as well, as the legs move. There's a JIRA about this, STORM-1800, but that seems to have been caught up in the foofooraw around the mesh deformer.
  3. Does it bother you when you see other avatars that are not proportionate at all? – Only if it's very badly off of normal.
  4. Even though this is a virtual world and people can be anything they want to be, do you feel when they are in human form, they should try to keep their proportions close to average? - Not even a little bit. The beauty of SL is that you can be whoever and whatever you want to be, deep down inside. 

I'm more than a little unhappy that the mesh deformer seems caught up in ...some form of limbo. I've heard lots of theories about it. The most common one is that Qarl Fizz annoyed LL to the point the deformer won't ever actually get into the viewer. I can vouch for Qarl being an annoying so-and-so - he pissed me off rather thoroughly when he brushed off my offer to help with the deformer UI in the manner he did, but his problem with me stretches back to the Emerald implosion - but that seems like a poor excuse for keeping it out of the viewer. I think it's more a matter of simply not quite being ready for prime time by whatever metric LL is applying to it.

Even so, my shape is such that very few mesh items work for me. The breast size, torso muscles, and leg muscles, especially, are way out of the norm. Because of this, I have essentially no mesh clothing, and won't until the deformer goes live.

I don't think I'll change a thing until then, though. There's plenty of good stuff for me to wear.

20 June 2013

I told you so!

I don't normally indulge in "I told you so", but this time I'm going to make an exception, because it just feels too good.

Today, Nyx Linden announced, in a posting to the TPV Developers mailing list, that the tentative date for the start of the rollout of server-side baking has been set for July 9. The date is subject to change if showstopper bugs are found, and there will be another round of testing, but in Nyx's words,
Please consider this an official warning that this is imminent - We've been saying for a while that we're getting ready for release. We hope with a solid date in mind, all viewers can start messaging to their users that they will need to update or they will start to see issues. 
As you should know by now, once SSB rolls out, old viewers will only see other avatars as clouds, and new viewers will likewise only see users on old viewers as gray. In short, your SL will be significantly restricted. We've warned you this day is coming, and it's finally here.

I've been saying for quite a long time that LL would do something that would render old viewers unusable. What I thought would be it turned out not to be, but I knew that someday they would do so. They would inevitably get to a point where they were going to have to make a choice between preserving compatibility and advancing the platform. When that choice came, they would do what would be needed to advance the platform.

This is that something.

I've been telling folks about this ever since we started working on Firestorm. I knew that, at some point, Firestorm would be the future-proofed solution for access to Second Life for folks who think that Viewer 3 does not fail to suck.

Guess what? I was right all along.

Yes, I told you so. Nyah nyah nannie nannie boo boo. And here, have a side order of neener neener, too.

To the folks out there who have been accusing me of lying whenever I bring this up (yes, Archangel Mortenwold, I'm looking at you, you hopeless sack of male bovine exhaust): I don't lie. I calls 'em as I sees 'em. I saw this day coming. I warned you about it. You said I was lying. I wasn't. Now pull your head out of your ass and update your viewer. I told you you were going to have to, years ago.

To the rest of you, you now have a deadline. Upgrade your viewer to something that supports server side baking - and your hardware, if you're running something that won't handle a modern viewer - or leave SL. The choice is just that simple.

18 June 2013

You get the customers you deserve

I'm friends with several designers of clothing and jewelry and suchlike in SL. I'm considering joining their ranks, if I can learn to get what I want out of Photoshop; I've recently learned how to make latex clothing, and it seems there's always room for another designer. But that's not what's inspired me to write.

It seems like themed discount malls are the new hotness. I hadn't heard of this kind of thing before, and certainly hadn't gone shopping at one. Apparently, for a nominal fee, a vendor gets a small number of prims for a couple of weeks to sell stuff that fits whatever the designated theme is. Run well, this supposedly makes money. Fair enough.

However, it's imperative, in any business, to remember who your customers are. In this case, the mall's customer is the vendor; their product is the mall and the buyers who come to it to suck up the cheap bargains. That means the mall needs to treat the vendors well if they expect to actually get them at all, much less for more than one period.

I'm told that there are good ones out there. Genre was the example cited.

And then there's the one that we've been discussing tonight: Total Anarchy. I'm not on their radar. I doubt they care about a small BDSM furniture vendor. Friends gave me a copy of their solicitation notecard.

Merciful $DEITY. The whole thing comes across as "we're small, we're new, nobody's ever heard of us, but we're so awesome that we can treat you like shit and you'll still beg us to let you in!"

Uhm. No. Just no.

They start off with a disclaimer:
First off we are COMPLETELY non politically correct here.  This discount room is not for the faint of heart, nor those who get easily butt hurt. There are no refunds for fees for any reason without reasonable notice - and by notice we mean minimum 48 hours - Got it? MINIMUM 48 hours. Once you commit and submit your info, suck it up and get your shit done. We're not your whores and will not ride your ass. If we were your whores, you'd still have to pay us. Get your shit done and on time.
This comes before the description of what the hell they're even selling!

The whole notecard follows that same approach. They seem to think that their customers are lazy shits who won't get things done on time and within prim limits and in accordance with the rules. If you don't do things exactly right, then they keep your money and give your slot to someone else.

This would be annoying as hell if the amounts involved weren't so utterly trivial: Their store fee is L$50 for two weeks! Fifty Lindens!

Oh, and they're running a contest for pictures, and the winner gets L$175. Tip to the winner: Don't spend it all in one place.

Here, let me explain a bit of business 101. You get the customers you deserve. Treat your customers well, you get good ones who stick around. Treat them like shit, you get shit for customers.

These folks start out by treating their customers like shit. Guess what they'll get? Hint: Not the good ones who won't cause drama. No, they'll get the assholes who'll quibble over fifty Lindens and come in late and then raise hell because they won't get exceptions in the rules made for them.

And that L$50 fee? That just screams "I'm small potatoes!". Reality check here: That's about US$0.20. Twenty cents. I could dig up six months' fees if I'd just pull the front seat out of my car and do the cleanup I keep wanting to. The couch change could buy their entire mall.

Here's some free advice for these idiots: Price your product like it's worth something. That L$50 had me thinking "No. Just no." before I even read the notecard. If you walk into a new car showroom and the sticker price is $10K, that instantly sets your expectations: don't expect Mercedes, or even Chevrolet, quality. Your money will, if you're lucky, get you the quality of a 1989 Hyundai Excel.

The same goes here. Even if they weren't being outright assholes to their potential customer base, that price would have me thinking "Not worth messing with".

Anyone want to speculate on the over/under for how long this thing lasts? They claim to have sold out one round and into the second, two weeks each. Personally, I don't think they'll sell a third, any at all.

They're expecting problems. They'll get what they expect, and more, and it'll largely be their own fault.