andygates: (Default)
My lappy is feeling its age and the latest Windlight incarnations of Second Life are causing it to grouse about having an under-spec graphics card.  Waily waily, poor little me, I know.  Question is, are there any l33t h@x for optimising Second Life for low-end graphics stuff, or is it just a case of playing with the sliders? 

It's been done for mobiles, so surely there's some market in producing an alternate skinny browser that doesn't have all the upgrade-your-graphics-card-richboy visual richness and trades it off for decent framerate?  I'd take a quarter of the Z-depth and cell shading over real lighting, really.  Actually, I'd always take cell shading because I have a hardon for cell shading (Google Sketchup, thou makest me go squee).
andygates: (Default)
Just a quicky: In SL, does anyone know how to tweak an avatar to a physical size?  For example, making an avvie six feet tall - it's not obvious from the unitless sliders for each body part in the avatar editor.  Indeed it can't be, because there isn't one for, say, "chest" - the chest parameters (chest, muscularity, fatness, shoulder width) are arbitrary and the chest size is an emergent property of them.

I've seen plenty of gadgets which report back an avatar's height, usually in clothing shops.  They usually startle me with the cartoony hugeness of yer vanilla avatar (apparently it's because the camera is so far away).  I wonder if a thing exists that can do a full stat report? 
andygates: (Default)
Metro lawyer boi hair!It's not just [personal profile] ankaret who has a thing for hair: I found this intro and roundup of a recent Hair Fair in Second Life while mooching around looking for some SL gesture accessories.  There's got to be a "thumbs up" and "crikey" gesture out there somewhere.  Why?  So that I could shoot some scraps of SL footage to cut into the Google Earth tours, of course.  Sierra Alpha Delta, hein?  :)

So there you go, virtual hair.  Surprisingly detailed, fancy, subtle moving-and-shiny hair.  And yes, people obsessive enough to buy (for about $0.50 a pop) a tidy style and a bedhead style and swap 'em around as the day - or night - goes on.  It's entertaining to watch just how elaborate the dress-up doll can become if you've got a groaning shedload of tech to play with. 

Which reminds me, my avatar needs some better sunglasses...

Ming Vase

Sep. 18th, 2006 02:46 pm
andygates: (Default)
Hail Ming! Hail Ming!No, not a pun on Mr. Campbell's party leadership - though I think the change from the old penny-on-income-tax to the new money-off-income-tax-and-on-pollution is damned daring. No, just a bad visual pun, 'cos I'm starting to poke around with object creation in Second Life and, well, it made me smile.
andygates: (Default)
Second Life is a big ol' virtual environment in which you can do all the fun, social things that you can do in MMORPGs without all that tiresome gaming bollocks; it's got private and public areas, all users can make stuff, objects can have sophisticated scripting and there's an economy that has a real-world exchange rate. It's very similar to a 1.0 flavour of the Street in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.

In Snow Crash, it is observed that there are lower orders or users: there's a class system on the Street just like in meatspace. And Stephenson is right, there is. The standard avatars in the book are Brandy and Clint, simple low-poly humans. In 2L it's much the same: your basic avatar is a medium-poly human with simple textured clothing.

Brandy and Clint are trailer trash. A default avatar screams newbie or worse, someone who doesn't get the whole avatar thing, and they get blanked in conversation. It's assumed they don't know how to move around, that they don't have anything to contribute, and that they'll have annoying n00bish questions. Nobody looks at a newbie avatar twice.

Worse than a default is a kludge. These guys have time but no style - and given that style is about the only tradeable commodity in a world with no need for food, shelter or breeding, that's a sin. Woe unto thee if thy avatar is coloured with pallette maxes, or (oh heinous crime) your tattoos pixellate when you get up close. And people do get up close; this isn't your FPS tribe skin, not by a long way. Users gather round campfires for a natter or snuggle up in hot-tubs (thoughtfully provided with "relax" "chill" and "cuddle" animations).

Neal's not the doubleprescient god of prediction quite. He didn't imagine the staggering number of moderately-escapist avatars - mostly anthropomorphic animals. Some of the furries are very, very good, but there's a strong tendency to stay anthro: what you don't see many of are mantises or slime moulds or Elder Things, and the R2D2 skin is just for parties. And there are no dinosaurs or giant walking penises, at least, not that I've seen. But otherwise he's spot on: make a good, slick, elegant, original avatar and you're immediately in the five percent. Don't, and you're always playing catch-up.

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