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Mesh or Prims Which Do You Prefer For Your Prefab House?


Moco Scribe
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The way we express creativity in SL has changed dramatically over the last couple of years, firstly with the introduction of sculpts and more recently with the advent of mesh. I recently visited a couple of sims which were around 90% mesh. They all looked really great and I didn’t notice any extra lag. Mesh is the way forward.

This poses a number of dilemmas not just for myself as a creator but for anyone building in Second Life whether that be clothes, hair, shoes, house or whatever. Although prims still have their place (they rez faster, are low lag, easy to build) they lack the detail and realism that mesh can give. So does this mean everything must now be made out of mesh or be consigned to trash?

This leaves me with a conundrum in that my best selling house is still 100% prim based (give or take a couple of sculpts). Whereas my mesh or part mesh builds are still popular the full prim cottage wins hands down. And I’m not entirely sure why.

So I’ve set up a SURVEY to understand more about what people really want from their ideal home. Do avis really want super low prim 100% mesh houses they can’t really modify? Or are they happy with some extra prims so that they can learn more about building and make the changes they want? I conducted a similar survey earlier in the year and the results were curious and not quite as expected, so it will be interesting to see if things have changed.

So, I’m really interested in your views, it’s all anonymous unless you want to leave your avi name and then I can say hi!

http://www.mocoscribe.wordpress.com

Moco Homes Emporium Ven River

Moco Homes Emporium Marketplace

SURVEY

Part Mesh CottagePrim Only Cottage

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Mesh has its advantages. It is can be lower prims in some cases. In others it doesnt matter.One thing I notice about mesh is when SL or your computer goes screwey so does the mesh objects. I have a mixture of Mesh and prims on my platform and when SL goes screwy it tends to not show the mesh and or show it deformed. So there is good and bad with mesh. 

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I would prefer a prefab house that has the lowest land impact possible. I think mesh houses are capable of offering more detail and better design with less land impact. I just want as much prims as possible for putting in furniture. I've seen many houses in SL that are just a house with absolutely no furniture or decoration. I'd look at the prim usage and see no prims available.

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It is certainly a conundrum which is why I set up the survey. Everyone wants their home to have the lowest possible LI and although this can be achieved by mesh it can severely limit the owner's opportunity to modify. That's the challenge for house builders for us to offer the the lowest possible LI, the highest quality and the ability to modify. In reality a lot of 100% mesh builds should not really say they are modifiable at all.

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I typically make my SL builds a mixture of prims and mesh. Partly that is because the physics in SL is a BIG pain, so if a regular prim will do, then hey!  I also make things as modular as possible. First that usually gives a lower land impact (I have some popular builds that are in the 34 LI range (well the Marketplace is down so I can't check closely). The mesh parts are modular so that folks can revamp for their needs.

You can certainly make low land impact mesh but the tradeoff in many builds is that the house falls apart when viewed from a distance.

And I still sell prim houses too. Some folks don't care and have prims to spare. So if your prim house looks good, then I wouldn't worry about it. I was going to revamp my Bayou Shack which still sells well even though it is older, but since I am no longer uploading that won't happen -- at least for awhile.

I think there is a place for BOTH mesh and prims -- it just depends on the buyer's needs. As long as the textures look great you should be fine.

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Hi Chic, thanks very much for the feedback and pointers from a builder's perspective! The early survey results show a preference of 30% for prim and mesh builds each whilst the rest aren't too fussed as long as it is a quality build. I've always felt that modular is the way to go and a cleverly built prim house can still meet a need. Survey feedback so far is that the ability to modify builds is very important in some ways more important than price! It will be interesting to see what other comments come through.

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I went and had a look at your houses at Ven River. I noticed a lot of external woodwork, windows and fences that must be sculpties, because they distorted badly at first LOD switch, quite visible with RenderVolumeLODFactor=2 (default for high graphics). So that's where I would start. Replacing these with good mesh, with single-plane alpha lowest-LOD, can eliminate LOD problems as well as and lowering LI. Have to do the whole lot, because linking sculpties to mesh will blow up the LI. They would be the same as sculpties as far as modifiability goes. Maybe get rid of sculpties first, then think about replacing walls and such with modular mesh?

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Thanks Drongle, some of the houses have mesh windows and doors some as you saw have old sculpts. I have already made the mesh windows and have been putting off replacing them due to the amount of time involved but needs must! My real hesitation is that all of my houses come with a built in texture changer for internal walls and creating single mesh walls makes this difficult to work properly without doubling some internal walls (extra LI) or leaving out the texture change altogether. I've tried changing the face the texture changer affects and sometimes it worked ok and mostly it didn't, it was quite random. If you have come across any solutions to this that would be useful.

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Well done - it is important to ask this sort of thing.  Mesh is wonderful if done well, but it's only one option we have as creators.

If only more customers would.  The 'wanted' forum - not a place to seek discerning buyers, it must be said - has so many newbies & noobs saying "I want a mesh ...." without ever saying why they want it in mesh (or, if they do, just that "mesh is better").

[Which reminds me - I've never checked the LI of my "ultra-low" building which was 11 prims, including 3 rooms, furniture, pool, texture-changing roof-garden and windows, shower, video wall, etc. etc. etc. - I'm a scripter so EVERYTHING was functional ^^

As a point I've made before - this is the 1-prim sculpt (under the old accounting system) bedroom furniture:

1 Prim Bedroom Set.png

(Yes, I build too - it's a particular strength of SL that anyone can make these things)]

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I build mostly lighting and furniture.  Furniture is not much of a problem but lighting is a different story.  Virtually ALL of my lamps are a combination of mesh and prim.  The prim is normally only those parts that have a glow, fullbright, or visible and invisible function (as in a light beam) function when the light fixture is turned on and off.  I have built some buildings that are a combination of prim and mesh also.  I found that for me I can give the lowest land impact with the combination since prims can now be converted over to convex hull or none physics.  This is especially true for large prims for walls and floors.  For modification of mesh, some of the problem is the baked in shadow maps of mesh.  You may be able to modify the mesh "prim" but the baked in shadowmap stays the same.  I have seen this on many mesh items, and not just houses.  So it can severly limit what the end user can do with the mesh object.  Mesh is great, but its not the be all, end all, of building in SL.

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I completely agree with your points. As builders we understand the need to use the best tools for the job, be that prims, sculpts or mesh as each have their uses dependent on what we're building. The issue is non builders only see mesh as the answer and for homes it may not be the best solution, reducing modability and adding in complications about how they interact with their homes.

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Moco Scribe wrote:

I completely agree with your points. As builders we understand the need to use the best tools for the job, be that prims, sculpts or mesh as each have their uses dependent on what we're building.
The issue is non builders only see mesh as the answer
and for homes it may not be the best solution, reducing modability and adding in complications about how they interact with their homes.

This which I have bolded above is such a big problem.  Left and right I hear people saying, "Yay, this is Mesh."  It's a bad attitude to embrace.

Eventually it will catch up with them, but Merchants using this as a 'selling point' are creating a problem.  One day people will realize they were sold a phony bill of goods.  Eventually people will figure out that the “sparkling drop of Retsyn” was nothing more than flavored "partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil."

partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil
partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil
partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil
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Moco Scribe wrote:

Very well put and I'm glad I asked the question as it has clarified a lot of things.

I'd like to add here that I am not saying Mesh is bad. 

What is bad is some people's expectations of it.

This week end a Merchant released a new mesh car.  A friend hearing a lot of praise for it's beauty decided to get one only to discover she didn't have enough prims free on her parcel to rez it.

Her exclamation when she went else where to rez it was, "Holy Mother Of Prims, this thing has a LI of 230 units!"

Pretty?  Yes.  Practical?  Nope.

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Second Life started out as a sandbox for tinkerers that afforded and even encouraged collaboration. Mesh steers it towards a "no user serviceable parts inside" world that may hold less attraction to those original tinkerers. Building increasingly becomes a solo out-world experience, and one being practiced by some people working well beyond their comfort (proficiency?) zone. The result of their efforts is difficult to gauge until you've spent the money.

Curiously, at exactly the same time that SL is heading in this direction, the RL "Maker" world is heading to where SL started. If I must now fire up my RL 3D design tools to create the latest and greatest for SL, I'm exposed to the temptation to push the output to a 3D printer, which I can purchase for four month's sim rent (and unlike SL, prices are falling). I find it ironic that, for me at least, RL is becoming a more interesting place to create than SL.

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Would you mind repeating that second sentence in this thread: http://community.secondlife.com/t5/General-Discussion-Forum/On-STRIKE/td-p/2244619

Mesh in SL IS progress, but that doesn't stop prim or sculpty builds having their uses, quite apart from the LI issue.  (I'm assuming you realise this and are just chucking in your usual flame-attempt).

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Well, as a builder who got into SL only because mesh became available, I'm somewhat biased.

But mesh really is the way forward. Most of the disadvantages of it spring from people not building efficiently. Mesh builds that look terrible at a distance is usually down to the auto generated LOD models in the mesh uploader. Then there's the art of UV mapping and using texture space efficiently.

Others have said it, but mesh builds can be very versatile if they're built to be modular. I would dearly love to be able to use custom pivot points, as it would make modular construction so much more straightfoward, but we work with the tools we have. :)

Having said all that, I can totally see how many creators would prefer to work in prims because learning 3d modelling is a pretty serious undertaking. There are multiple skillsets to master and new tools to learn and it can seem pretty daunting to beginners.

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IvanBenjammin wrote:

... Most of the disadvantages of [Mesh] spring from people not building efficiently ...


Yep, that's pretty much it.  Everything IS mesh anyway, it's the way the graphics work.  Prims just give you an easy way to make some standard mesh-models (eg; "a cube") in-world.  The big advantage to those remains that they can always be edited in-world too, unlike a 'pure' mesh model.

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A couple of questions: are you glad that your mesh skills brought you into second life and what's your take so far? I ask because the majority of the people who have been here for a while joined for very different reasons. If more people join to maximise their mesh skills that will change not just what people sell and buy but the overall culture and feel of SL.

 

The next question is a more technical one. For the lower LODS I assume you don't use the uploader inbuilt ones so do you upload sepecially created models or just tweak the LOD numbers on the uploader?

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Yeah, very glad, especially now with mesh much more prevalent and materials coming onto the scene. I suspect I'm a little ahead of the curve with my stuff, but oh well: The curve will catch up :)

 

LODs: Yes, always build/upload my own. In the words of Ellen Ripley, "Its the only way to be sure." The auto generation almost always ruins the shape.

I have Dronge McMahon to thank for his fantastic LOD graphs - they took a lot of guesswork out of the process.

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Ok that's extremely modest of you to claim you are 'ahead of the curve' :-) Have you had a look at what's being offered on the Marketplace? There are some amazing and well made mesh creations, the competition is fierce. Your stuff is nice too. Would you be able to send me a link to Drongle's LOD graphs?

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