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Anyone else think there should be more talk about a standardized scale for building in Second Life?

Some builders build to RL scale. Which often seems tiny when your avatar is scaled for something else. Or vice versa.

We know why this happens. The camera position is largely to blame, as is the sliders for making avatar shapes. The camera thing is an easy fix, adjusting zoom and position. Zoom in closer. Make avatars semi-transparent, etc.

The question is, can we fix it? And if we can, will people accept it?

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Interesting subject!

I tend to work on scale, I take a reasonable SL avatar height as base (around 2mts), and I more or less trying to use proportions starting there to my buildings.

It's true, the camera doesn't help always, and buidings can look too closed, but at same time, if you'd were to use mouselook the idea would be more realistic, but none does that I know...

The alternative, some creators prefer, is oversized buildings, I understand that when it comes to houses and stores, but I don't understand why oversized furniture, gigantic beds, chairs that any avatar might look like a dwarf with their legs hanging mtrs above the floor. Is there a reason for that?

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The general consensus seems to be that builders made buildings to compensate for the camera. Then people started scaling their avatars up to "better fit" in those buildings. So, following the trend, builders started making vehicles, furniture, and accessories for these upscaled avatars... Which caused more people to scale up, etc. Now everything's sized up, so a seven foot tall avatar is called short when they go out anywhere.

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Yes there should be more talk and action.

Some objects do follow rl scale. In the Library folder in Inventory is a Builders Tape measure, it's is helpful in determining door width and height, first floor/second floor heights.

The Rail Roads in SL have a standardized scale.

Furniture makers are doing a good job at producing realistic to scale objects.

Vehicles could use some improvements. I think LL should host a Huge Car Show at the Linden Memorial Park. That would be awesome.

Yes it can be fixed. Adding more features and building specs to the Builder Tape Measure would help.

 

Create Mainland Covenant's with building codes.

There are several existing Regions which would make ideal testing regions because those regions currently adhere to a general theme. Building code requirements and limitations would solidify investments in those Regions and encourage additional investments in equity. 

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Perhaps a section of the wiki dedicated to "optimal measures" for certain builings, avatars, etc. As pointed out before, buildings try to match the camera, then avatars, and so on. Now we have "Linden Houses" for instance, and we always had default avatars, the creators involved in those proyects could write down, and perhaps submit to community discussion, the measures they took, the considerations they made for them, etc.

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I've considered this a big topic for years. The lack of consistent scale in SL has been a huge detriment to SL's graphics, the level of detail, and even the amount of content we can fit in a sim.

The problem is compounded by the confusion surrounding avatar scale, leading to further building issues as well as problems with attachments, furnishings and even animations.

 

 It is extremely difficult for the community to solve this issue with no support from Linden Lab. This is a problem LL really needs to address. They can do this very easily by making a few changes.

 

 LL needs to provide accurate height information to residents who are editing their shapes. Currently, LL shows incorrect height information. The height displayed in the appearance editor of LL's own viewers is off by about half a foot or more. LL is aware of the bug, they simply have yet to correct it.

 Second, LL needs to provide new residents with properly scaled and proportioned shapes. The shortest of the current starter avatars is still 6'8" tall. That's pretty mammoth considering that "short" avatar is a woman, and average height for an American woman is 5'5". Shorter in many other parts of the world. The avatars for men just over 7' tall. Some of the older starters I believe were closer to 8' tall or more.

 So, the starter avatars are giants, until recently LL provided residents with no information on height and now that they do the height they provide is wrong. In addition, avatars can be anywhere from under 4' tall tto just shy of a full 9' tall. It's really no wonder there's so much confusion running rampant.

 

 Bigger avatars need bigger builds, most people eyeball their avatars and build around them, with several feet of height difference between the average avatar that makes most content in SL way out of scale with each other.

 

 Then there's the BIG culprit, the SL camera. SL's camera placement is terrible, pretty much requiring people increase the size of their builds to double scale. Whe you make a house double size, it takes up 4 times as much area. So, your house requires 4 times as much land. In addition, with current restrictions on prim sizes, those 10x10m rooms are now 20x20m. A 7 prim 10x10 room winds up being 16 prims at 20x20m. So you need more land space and more prims!

Here's a forum post where I explain how to fix SL's camera placement.

 If you own a full sim, building like this means you're basically paying for a full sim but only using it as if it were 1/4th of a sim. That's a fairly substantial waste of money, wouldn't you agree?

 

 So yes, most definitely scale is important and there are many very real benefits, for everyone, inbuilding to scale.

 

 

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Penny Patton wrote:

I've considered this a big topic for years. The lack of consistent scale in SL has been a huge detriment to SL's graphics, the level of detail, and even the amount of content we can fit in a sim.

The problem is compounded by the confusion surrounding avatar scale, leading to further building issues as well as problems with attachments, furnishings and even animations.

 

 It is extremely difficult for the community to solve this issue with no support from Linden Lab. This is a problem LL really needs to address. They can do this very easily by making a few changes.

 

 LL needs to provide accurate height information to residents who are editing their shapes. Currently, LL shows incorrect height information. The height displayed in the appearance editor of LL's own viewers is off by about half a foot or more. LL is aware of the bug, they simply have yet to correct it.

 Second, LL needs to provide new residents with properly scaled and proportioned shapes. The shortest of the current starter avatars is still 6'8" tall. That's pretty mammoth considering that "short" avatar is a woman, and average height for an American woman is 5'5". Shorter in many other parts of the world. The avatars for men just over 7' tall. Some of the older starters I believe were closer to 8' tall or more.

 So, the starter avatars are giants, until recently LL provided residents with no information on height and now that they do the height they provide is wrong. In addition, avatars can be anywhere from under 4' tall tto just shy of a full 9' tall. It's really no wonder there's so much confusion running rampant.

 

 Bigger avatars need bigger builds, most people eyeball their avatars and build around them, with several feet of height difference between the average avatar that makes most content in SL way out of scale with each other.

 

 Then there's the BIG culprit, the SL camera. SL's camera placement is terrible, pretty much requiring people increase the size of their builds to double scale. Whe you make a house double size, it takes up 4 times as much area. So, your house requires 4 times as much land. In addition, with current restrictions on prim sizes, those 10x10m rooms are now 20x20m. A 7 prim 10x10 room winds up being 16 prims at 20x20m. So you need more land space and more prims!

 If you own a full sim, building like this means you're basically paying for a full sim but only using it as if it were 1/4th of a sim. That's a fairly substantial waste of money, wouldn't you agree?

 

 So yes, most definitely scale is important and there are many very real benefits, for everyone, inbuilding to scale.

 

 

You're right about one thing. Moer standardization needs to be in the viewer for it to be more widely accepted. I know users have been pushing for it for years. But until someone with some authority (read: LL) puts in some methods and scales people will actually see, it'll never be enforced.

The second issue is- what about all the products already built to the current oversized scale? What happens to all of them?

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Most pro builders will tell you that making buildings 25-50% larger than RL measurements is the magic proportion.  Any smaller, and not only do things tend to look short next to the typically too-tall avatar, but nagivation becomes challenging.  (SL's movement controls are clunky.  Avatars need a fairly wide berth to keep from bumping into things.)  Any larger, and things just start to look cartoonishly big.  Anywhere inside that 125% to 150% range is safe.

Ceilings are a notable exception.  In RL, they're about 7.5 to 8' high, in most rooms.  In SL, they need to be at least 4 meters high (well over 13 feet), which obviously is way more than 150% of RL height.  Most builders tend to go even higher than that, at 5 meters or more.  But you can go down to 4 without causing camera problems for the majority of users.  You can even go to 3.5, which would put you almost exactly at 125% of RL, to match the proportions of the rest of the room, and most users' cameras will still be OK.  However, things start to feel pretty cramped when the ceilings are at that level.  For whatever reason, we just require ceilings on-screen to be higher than in RL, in order to feel comfortable with what we're looking at.  Even in first person shooter games, in which avatar height is never even seen, and camera placement is never an issue, ceilings still tend to be disproportionately high. 

Remember what Ted Striker said about coming in low? "Coming in low is part of every text book approach.  It's just what you gotta do when you land."  Well, it's kind of like that, except we're talking about 'coming in high' instead of 'coming in low'.  To paraphrase, you might put it like this:  "4+ meters high is part of every on-screen ceiling.  It's just what you gotta do when you build."

 

To summarize, just remember 25-50% larger than RL for floorplans, and 4 meters or higher for ceilings, and your builds will always work.  Happy building. :)

 

 

 

Now that that's been said, I'd like to address one point that was rasied by Penny, if I may. :)


Penny Patton wrote:.

 

 LL needs to provide accurate height information to residents who are editing their shapes. Currently, LL shows incorrect height information. The height displayed in the appearance editor of LL's own viewers is off by about half a foot or more. LL is aware of the bug, they simply have yet to correct it.

 

I agree that there should be a better system in place for determining the actual height of an avatar.  However, I'm not sure it's quite fair to call the current measurement system a bug.  The word "bug" would imply something is broken, or not working as intended.  But this is not the case here.  As far as I know, the measurements are in fact accurate, and the system works absolutely as designed.  The problem is people don't tend to understand what the measurements mean, due to poor wording.

When the system reports that "your avatar is 2 meters tall" what it actually means is your avatar's eyes are 2 meters above the ground. But it doesn't come out and say that.  It just says "your avatar is ___M tall", which is somewhat misleading.  If they were simply to change the wording of the message, the apparent 'bug' would cease to exist.  People would immediately understand what's actually going on.

I suspect the "height" measurement has more to do with camera docking than anything else.  The altitude reported is the position your camera will dock to when you're in mouselook mode.  I would assume that this system was probably put in place long before the actual avatar model was ever even built.  The original avatar, when SL was first under development, was just a crude collection of geometric shapes.  Once they had a humanoid model in place, it was probably only then that somebody realized, "Oh yeah, we need to look through its eyes, not through the top of its head."  By then, it was probably too late to bother with changing how the height reporting worked, since much larger priorities were no doubt on the plate.

In any case, to do the kind of height reporting you're looking for, we'd first need a solid definition of what "height" even means.  If an avatar has an afro or a mohawk, is it "taller" than one that is bald?  If it's got horns or a top hat or a big old tree growing out of its skull, is it even taller than that?

If you want to go by RL human standards, then you might say "height" is measured to the top of the cranium, not including hair or attachments.  In that case, you'd be talking half a head above eye level, since the eyes (on a human) are centered vertically on the face. 

This is why a seemingly 6' male avatar with idealized proportions would actually be 6'5"  tall.  An ideal male is 8 heads tall.  If the eyes are at the 6' mark, then 7.5 heads equal 6'.  That's 9.6 inches per head, which means 76.8 inches in total height.  Consider that most people give their avatars pretty unrealistic proportions, and it's easy to see how discrepancies of a foot or more can come into play.

And that's just for humans.  Not all avatars fit that description.  What if my avatar is a robot or an alien or a dog or a beach ball?  What's my "height" then?  How do we even begin to define it?

And if you think it's bad now, wait 'til mesh arrives.  The days of relying on the existing avatar model will be long gone fast.  Rigged attachments of every variety you could imagine, and millions more you couldn't, will be the norm.  Such quaint notions as "height" will no doubt be largely thrown out the window.

 

Even if we put the eye-height/total-height issue aside, the avatar size still remains problematic.  I've long suspected that the avatar was created by a wholly separate person (or group) from the people that first created land in SL.  My guess is the avatar was done by some contractor, since to my knowledge, no Linden has ever taken credit for it.

The reason I think these things were done separately, and then only brought together afterward, is for two main reasons.  First, the avatar does not seem to correspond at all with SL's notion of a "meter".  Second, SL only gets that notion as a direct result of how land works.  A "meter" is simply 1/256 the width of region.  Take the land out of the equation, and the "meter" is completely arbitrary.  It's only in the context of land that the meter can have any fixed definition, and once again, that definition quite obviously has nothing whatsoever to do with how avatars work.

I once wrote a fairly in-depth analysis of this on the old-old forums.  One of my primary arguments illustrating how avatars don't jive at all with the SL meter was the fact that it's damned near impossible to create a realistically proportioned avatar when the height is within normal human range, as measured in meters.  Ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, etc., all become quite disproportionate, compared to the rest of the body, when the overall height gets that low.  There's no perfect way to fix this.

It's only when the avatar is allowed to be freakishly tall, compared to the SL meter, that realistic proportions from body part to body part become possible.  So, either the avatar is allowed to be too big for the meter, or it's forced to be out of proportion within itself.  Needless to say, most people will opt for the former.  Apparent giantism can be forgiven far more easily than ugliness.

The title of my analysis was "Avatars Are Not Too Tall; Meters Are Too Short, Seriously".  I still believe that statement was true.  After all, the 'measuring stick' we all go by in SL for everything from hats and skirts to furniture and vehicles to doorways and buildings is the "average" avatar.  Our objects that are in perfect fit with our avatars all contain "too many meters".   Therefore, meters in SL are smaller than they should be, relative to the avatar, and as a consequence, relative to everything else (except land).

Again, the only thing we know for sure about what defines a "meter" is that it's 1/256 the width of a region.  Other than that, it really has no function.  The avatar is what we must measur everything against, if we want anything to look right and be functional.

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@ Gadget Portal

   Absolutely nothing happens to existing content. It would be slowly phased out over time, like pre-sculpt attachments that were replaced with better, nicer looking sculpted attachments.

 This is not a problem you can fix overnight.

 

@Chosen Few

 It IS a bug according to Nyx Linden, who stated that AgentHeight (the number shown in the SL appearance editor and returned by many scripted height detectors, is actually supposed to be your height. That it is not correct means it is a bug. (The forum isn't letting me embed links right now so here's the Jira where, in the comments, Nyx stated AgentHeight is supposed to be avatar height but isn't correct:  https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-7253  )

 If AgentHeight were not intended to be avatar height then its use in the Viewer 2 appearance editor would be a mistake. So either way you look at it there is a bug. Either in AgentHeight itself, or in the Viewer 2 appearance editor.

 Gadget Portal Gadget Portal
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Thanks for the link, Penny.  It's good to know that LL is on the case, regarding this issue.

However, I'm still not convinced the word "bug" is comletely appropriate.  From Nyx's comments, it seems they're addressing the issue by implementing a design change to what factors are included in the computation.  Nowhere on the issue tracker page did Nyx actually use the word "bug".  Call it a matter of semantics if you will, but I have a hard time referring to each and every problem as a bug.  I think this one was simply a design flaw from way back.

To give you an idea of where I'm coming from on the difference, here's a somewhat similar example.  Lots of people refer to the alpha sorting glitch as a bug, even though it's not.  Alpha sorting works exactly as it's designed to work.  To the untrained eye, it can seem a bit unpredictable, and it's certainly not always convenient to have to work with or around it, but there's nothing actually broken or malfunctional about it.

I don't see the avatar height issue as all that different.  In both cases, you've got something that was designed originally to work a little differently from how the user would intuitively expect.  To me, a bug is when something doesn't work as the designer intended.

It hardly matters what we call it, of course.  If you prefer "bug", I'm happy to agree to disagree agreeably.  I just thought it was an interesting topic to talk about was all.  :)  The important thing is that the issue itself is being corrected (largely due to your efforts to spotlight the problem, by the looks of it).

Thanks for helping to lead the charge to spur LL into action on this, Penny.  I'm sure a great many SL residents, myself included, will be grateful.

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I think it boils down to a question of

Do you build to suit what "is currently", what "should be", or what "is convenient"...

your answer depends on your goals.

 

me, I take a cobination route.... I build to what "should be" (RL scale, IMO), with an eye towards what "is convenient" (higher ceilings etc to accomodate poor camera placement) and make sure that it will size up to what "is currently" (include optional resizers with oversized presets.)

of course that isn't always possible... for instance when building a prefab, layout space is set, so resizing it up or down changes the foorprint.... which isn't workable for many people.

pick your tradeoffs, run with them.

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