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Next Steps for Mesh Import

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Jack.Linden

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During Philip’s keynote at the 2010 SLCC, we committed to bringing Mesh import to Second Life. This functionality would allow content created in the mainstream 3D creation tools, such as Maya or Blender, to be imported directly into Second Life, in much the same way that animations and textures can be uploaded today. In this case, we would provide support for the Collada file format. We see this as an important step to empower content creators to make the inworld experience an even richer and more creative one than it is today.

Find Out What Our Mesh Import Beta Testers Think

As you know, we have been working on Mesh import for some time and have had an awesome group of Resident beta testers helping us to iron out the kinks. Those testers have been under NDA, but today we will be lifting that NDA so that those folks in the closed beta can talk publicly about their experiences with Mesh in Second Life. This is in line with our desire to be ever more open about what we are working on. Look for other videos, blog posts, and Tweets (#slviewer2) shortly.

In fact, I encourage you to view the Second Life Youtube channel where we already have six videos showcasing Mesh Import technology, contributed by beta testers Draxtor Depres, Timmi Allen, and Matrice Laville.

And, big thanks to all of our Mesh Import beta testers. Your dedication, creativity, feedback, encouragement, and patience has been invaluable. We couldn’t have gotten here without you.

Open Beta Coming Soon
We’re also getting ready to move from the current closed beta, to an open beta so that any Resident interested in helping us to test the Mesh toolset, or just curious about the technology, can get involved. Mesh Import has some incredibly exciting implications for inworld content creators, so we’re very keen to get as much feedback as we can; and of course, the more people that use it, the better the feature will be when we go live gridwide.

The plan is to blog again in two weeks, when we’ll announce when the open beta will be available and talk more about the development process and the remaining work to be done. As you’re starting to see on other projects, there will be a specific Project Viewer for the open beta for Mesh Import that will take Residents to a development grid where Mesh is enabled. The open beta will be a ‘technology demo’ rather than being a complete product -- so you should expect that the user interface will change significantly as we receive your feedback and continue to work on it. The technology for Mesh Import is complex, so making sure that it is not only easy to use, but also a powerful tool for content creators, is part of the challenge. We’re looking forward to getting your help.

Take a Look at What’s Ahead
I’ll leave you with some great screenshots showing some of the work our beta testers have done. And definitely check out those Mesh Import videos on Youtube. I hope you’ll agree that this is going to be a wonderfully exciting addition to Second Life.
t-rex-in-the-house_001.png
mesh-temple_001.png
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This is in line with our desire to be ever more open about what we are working on.

Can the project viewer's source code be published before or with the beta going public, please? Bonus points if you keep the published repository up-to-date to further development afterwards.

Thanks!

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Well, it certainly looks promising, I'll say that. I look forward to the day when a TPV that doesn't rely on the crippled 2.x UI backports the Mesh Import capabliities into a usable Viewer.

Will mesh be visible to the users of non 2.x Viewers?

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That's going to be a question for the third-party developers.

And really, I'm guessing you will always have to deal with TPVs that reply on LL-released code, the effort level involved in a scratch-built viewer is monumental.

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These YouTube videos are all at least three and a half months old.

They're okay as kind of teasers, but if it was going to take this long for public release, I was expecting a lot more detail at the same time, such as documentation of avatar rigging and the scripting functions for manipulating textures, as well as the formula for counting mesh complexity as prims, and how that limits avatar-attached mesh complexity.

So, those are questions.

There's also the meta question of why these particular vids were under wraps for so long, and what's been happening since.

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At bloody last, something to get excited about! I'm sure there will be many twists and turns to unfurl but this does look good.

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Blog ate my reply

Thank you !!!!!!

I have a small question: I was under the impression that one of the things that was tested was the impact on lag, right? Can you tell us a bit about that? Will mesh add to lag, if so how much or not at all?

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So what's next? Vertice limits to wipe out all the home businesses so only the chosen few linden buddies and alts will be in business? With crappy looking WoW style avatars?

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None at all since the meshes can be optimized easier than a prim-build of the same object.

 

What I'm saying is thre's shouldn't be any increase in lag. However, don't expect meshes to speed up SL overnight. It's something that will have to take time, like sculpted prims, to propogate and catch on. Of course there will be those creators who will scream bloody murder about LL upsetting the market economy with this, but lets be real, SL can only look so good on prims. Prims are easy to work with, yes, but they're not nearly as elegant.

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I agree.  While I adore what mesh can offer for avatar creation, vehicle creation and building in general, part of me knows that some folks are going to insist that every rock, every plant and every step be made out of mesh in the near future.  Sculpts were troublesome enough in that the LOD would turn a lovely place into a garden of spheres.  Just walking into such a place would take a minute for all the sculpt textures to load.  Imagine how long it'll take a parcel with 100 meshs each at 27MB to load.

I'm looking forward to Meshes.  But I would like to see some tests showing how long it takes for a mesh and reasonably identical sculpt to rez from nothing by teleporting right in front of both with a stopwatch.

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Your own avatar is a mesh -- it always has been.  If you are worrying about mesh coming in and only a handful being able to control how the mesh looks, you are most of a decade too late.

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A mesh object in theory only takes about as long to load as the avatar and terrain mesh in SL. IF it is optimized properly, however I know some people will be in too big a hurry to click the "Optimize" tool button in 3D Studio Max before uploading, so we will have to do do some beta testing first, hence the beta viewer.

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Now this is exciting news! I was wondering when the beta would be announced. I'm very much looking forward to it.

- Luc -

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Thanks for your usual disdain of everyone except LL office hour fan boys. That is not what I am talking about.

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Ann it sounds like they could come in and give everyone free candy and you'd be complaining about everyone getting cavities.

If SL is to look better it needs better creation tools. Besides, we got sculpties and it didn't drive everyone but the "linden buddies" out of business. LL can't halt innovation forever just to keep the less skilled creators from going under.

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Ugh. You're not even going through the motions of pretending to be concerned about the effect of the introduction of mesh will have on the economy.

Enabling a professional class of higher-technology creators is even more FIC than the current FIC (which is why my new FIC list has "Beta Mesh FIC" as a separate category).

It means these people -- and some professional 3-D content creators outside of SL currently -- can come in and step on the old prim craftsmen.

Thousands of people, some of whom even make a living selling prim furniture and other prim-based items.

Of course, your fanboyz are likely to kick up the usual Social Darwinist nostrums and "oh-you-Luddites" admonitions, complaining that we aren't "adjusting to the creative destruction of the market" or "realigning our business models" or "accepting innovation" or are "filled with FUD" blah blah blah.

There's an even more important aspect of all this than the stomping on an old merchant and craftsmen class. And that's the concomitant feature of having anyone, any amateur, be able to modify the creations of others easy, or make very easy creations of their own. Not so with Mesh, that requires 3-D programs that can be expensive, and more skills than the creation tools of SL -- *which are now made obsolete*.

and before we hear lectures about how Mesh represents advanced technology and we must always and everywhere make way for new technology "just because" (the fallacy of progress), let me point out that what was REALLY progressive and revolutionary was putting creation tools into ordinary people's hands, so that the "what about the people with no talent" question always had an answer. Sort of like the social media revolution and the open-ended virtual world concepts themselves took these media out of the hand of elites and made it possible for ordinary people to tell their stories, too, without dependency on Hollywood, etc.

I'm getting pretty bitter about the way you are running SL lately. And I'm not usually bitter about SL, even being a critic.

One feels as if there is no home here, as if we are always being squeezed out.

If you want to address these concerns adequately, you'd have said in this post that LL will preserve the ability to make prims and the creation tools even as mesh is put in and not phase them out, and you would also indicate whether you've REALLY studied the impact on the economy. And that would mean having independent consultants, because you yourselves are an interested party, you have have always seem hell-bent on trying to make SL like some fantastic game engine of some other company you imagine you are competing against for the geek gamerz who are your peers.

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@ Prokofy says:

Not so with Mesh, that requires 3-D programs that can be expensive

Whoa.. Blender is free.  Are some 3d apps expensive?  Yes.  Maya sure is.

I maintain that this merely widens the spectrum of possible content.  In RL, we have markets for simple, hand crafted goods, as well as those only possible via more expensive production means.

Creators of all classes *should* be enabled.  If someone has made the effort to get good at their craft, why lock them out?

And, conversely, someone who may have been a bit complacent about learning new things (such as an external graphics editor) may well be *inspired* when they see what is possible when meshes come in-world.  If they take that inspiration to learn something new, it takes their expression of creativity to new levels.   Why prevent a possible motivation?

A wider spectrum of building diversity is a good thing.

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Prokofy, if there have been any statements by LL that the old system for making things (prims, sculpties) was going to be phazed out, I'd love to see you provide a link to it.  I seriously doubt anything of that sort has ever been said, or is even being planned.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they've said things to the contrary.

In any event, I, personally, am looking forward to Mesh imports, and have been looking forward to it for months.  For one thing, it will allow better avatars, and better clothes, and also I expect -- and indeed COUNT on -- Mesh support to show up on OpenSim soon, too.

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This is why I speak of Social Darwinism in my original reply to Jack. Because of replies like this. Because of people who believe that you don't have progress unless you've savaged and burned some other group of people. Because of people who believe that you can't criticize obvious favourism and elitism, and indeed, deny its very existence.

It's not about false unionism and protectionism and keeping the unskilled or amateur from "going under". It's just the opposite. It's about making a robust, diverse, *OPEN* economy that isn't a closed shop like a Renaissance Faire, forcing a good chunk of those who log-on to be passive and mute consumers.

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It's very nice of the new technology at any cost camp to belittle those who have concerns and/or don't use 3-D animation/CAD/Architecture applications. Thanks for the respect guys.

I have to agree with Ann's point here; this will be a boon for those in SL who have the skill set (and the finances) to work with 3DS, Maya or the free (but complex) Blender. Current builders who've been honing their skills for years using the in-world tools will either have to get up to speed on this very high-end software or eventually fall to the wayside. It will also open up the (comparatively) large and mature SL market to those who are currently selling content online and have no connection to SL currently.

I get the fact that SL needs to continuously evolve. I have no issue with technological progress but, we also need to remember the needs of the current resident builders who helped shape this virtual world and the more casual creators.

OMG, I'm on the same side of an argument as Prok... *shudders*...but in this case she does have valid concerns about the creation of a new "elite class", many of whom will have no connection with the SL community.

Question: Since we're looking at mesh imports is there any thought regarding renovating our currently very low poly count avatars? (I know the two are very different issues but, the avatar is the basic thing we all share and the primary means of expression in SL and it's pretty dated. If we're going to make the world look prettier why not our avs?)

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"Let's at least see you guys argue this one out on the merits of the truth about it, that it is indeed a Linden windfall to a select class of people and it will CHANGE OUR WORLD COMPLETELY."

It is a windfall to a self-selected class of people; those who choose to download blender and get to know how to use it, and who have the talent and skills to use it. Linden Lab is not handing out passes to select individuals to enable only them to upload meshes.

Unless phase two in this master plan is to remove the ability to create objects inworld I'll stick to my opinion that this is a good thing.

Change isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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This isn't about savaging a group, it's about introducing new tools. The automotive industry didn't hold back on the fuel injector because some poor mechanics would have to learn new tools, they went ahead and made the improvements that needed to be made in order to benefit the industry as a whole.

Some mechanics no doubt retired rather than learn to service cars with fuel injectors and on-board computers, some refused to work on newer vehicles, the remaining mechanics acquired the new tools and skills required to continue operating.

The difference here is there's no mandate, those who prefer the in-world tools can continue using them. There are of course market forces at play that will result in consequences for that decision but I for one can't agree with holding back innovation simply to protect those who prefer the status quo.

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