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Phil Deakins

Curious about houses in SL

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There's a new thread that asks if anyone makes custom houses. At the time of writing this there is just one reply, and it only talks about the possibility of mesh houses, as though mesh is the only sensible option. What I'm curious about is, what are the benefits of a mesh house over a prim one?

I've only ever dipped my toe into mesh, so I'm not very familiar with it, but I can see that one (big, imo) disadvantage of mesh buildings is the inability to modify the textures on individual sufraces. E.g. you couldn't change the wallpaper. I'm not sure if mesh building have the same problem for selecting furniture inside them that sculptie building have, but I imagine they do, and that would be another problem.

So does a mesh buidling have advantages that outweigh the disadvantages? Are prim buildings undesirable these days?

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If you get someone that really knows how to create efficient mesh that is lower in LI, low poly and doesn't melt a few meters away, there could be.  Mesh can also allow for more realism or be able to include elements that are impossible with prim or sculpts.

Still there is the drawbacks  It probably won't be modifiable much, if at all, especially if it has baked textures.  A great mesher is likely to be more expensive too.  If the customer is willing to accept these and gets a great mesher that knows their stuff it may be to their advantage. 

To me prims, sculpts and mesh are all tools in a builder's toolbox.  A good builder knows which of these options or combinations will produce the house a client wants within the given LI available, at a price that the customer is willing to pay.

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If a mesh house is build "right" textures can be modified the same way as they can on a system prim. This is done while building in the 3d software. You have the option to map it so that it will behave exactly the same as the system prims. If there is AO baked in you will lose that when you change the texture but that would be the same if it was a prim build. If you have the AO maps, you can of course use those in Photoshop, Gimp or Krita and make your own textures. 

Mesh, again when done right, can save a lot of prims. Prims are not at all undesirable, it is a matter of knowing when to use mesh, prim or sculpted. Combinations are possible.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

There's a new thread that asks if anyone makes custom houses. At the time of writing this there is just one reply, and it only talks about the possibility of mesh houses, as though mesh is the only sensible option. What I'm curious about is, what are the benefits of a mesh house over a prim one?

I've only ever dipped my toe into mesh, so I'm not very familiar with it, but I can see that one (big, imo) disadvantage of mesh buildings is the inability to modify the textures on individual sufraces. E.g. you couldn't change the wallpaper. I'm not sure if mesh building have the same problem for selecting furniture inside them that sculptie building have, but I imagine they do, and that would be another problem.

So does a mesh buidling have advantages that outweigh the disadvantages? Are prim buildings undesirable these days?

Each mesh object can have up to eight "faces" that can each be given a different texture, and a house can be built of many mesh objects just like it can be made from many prims. The faces can be set up by the builder any way they see fit. This means that not only can you change the wallpaper, etc. of a mesh house, you can change multiple related textures (i.e. all the walls in one room) at the same time.

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Yeah, for very large structures, Mesh can take a big Land Impact penalty. For "houses" that's not usually a problem.

One thing that seems to be a pretty universal drawback is the inabilitiy to accurately rez objects on top or against a mesh surface. This leads to rez failures such as "... the owner doesn't allow it" because the "ray" passes through the mesh to the neighbor's parcel (I guess), or the object vanishing altogether if, god forbid, the neighbor allows rezzing with no auto-return. (That case isn't *that* bad; there's always Build / Pathfinding / Linksets to find your gone-missing stuff.)

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The rezzing "bug" you mention has probably to do with the physics shape of the mesh. SL sees that as the surface while you cannot see it unless you set those to visible in the viewer. Not entirely sure but this is the most likely thing to cause this. There must be a lot of ppl on the forum that know much more about this then me :matte-motes-wink:

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Amethyst Jetaime wrote:

To me prims, sculpts and mesh are all tools in a builder's toolbox.


You can say that again! Ithink we're on the wrong track when the material used becomes more important than the results achieved.

Mesh allows you to make far more detailed houses with lower land impact but there are several traps and even today less than half the mesh house makers on the market know how to use the material effectively. So you get houses with faulty LoD models, with faulty physics and so heavily textured a single house adds noticeably to the overall lag. And you get mesh houses with unneccessary high LI.

Compared to an old style prim house, you can typically save 75-90% of the land impact with mesh withouth sacrificing quality. That may sound like a lot but keep in mind that you can also typically save 40-60% of the LI by updating the prims with recent build features like different physics shapes and larger prims.

I think it also is important to keep in mind that the LI reduction is mostly nominal, not real. Land impact is after all supposed to be a way to measure how much lag an object causes and converting an old prim build to mesh (or modern "convexed" prims) doesn't help much there. You have to be a very careless builder to lag down a sim with prims but with mesh you have to be very careful not to do it.

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VanillaSunsets wrote:

The rezzing "bug" you mention has probably to do with the 
physics shape of the mesh.

That is correct and the bug is easy to avoid if you know how. Just one more thing mesh makers need to know but LL forgot to tell about...

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As a consumer of mesh buildings the biggest and mainly only advantage to me being full or part mesh is the Li, Land Impact takes precedence over prim count i use two buildings on my plot that are full and part mesh where the prim count is greater than the Li, if these two builds were made of sculpt & prim the prim counts would mean i would not be able to have both buildings rezzed the lower Li's mean i can have both buildings rezzed with prims to spare 

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Both prim and mesh houses have their advantages, and some builders use a combination of materials.

I like prims because you can build on site and adapt the house to the shape, size, and terrain of the parcel, but mesh uses up less of your prim allotment.

One of my favorite prim houses is the Porky Gorky Gecko I have in Cecropia, but I also have some mesh Chin Rey builds and some excellent houses by Barnesworth Anubis and others. 

Even though mesh usually uses less resources I would like to see everyone in Second Life learn to build with prims at least to the extent of being able to put foundations on their houses. I cringe when I'm travelling down a road in SL and pass a structure that is hovering a few feet off the surface. 

I'm trying to learn Blender, and hat's off to those who are skilled in its use.

 

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Thank you for all the replies. I have no opinion myself because, as I said, I've only ever dipped my toe into mesh, so I can't actually discuss it, but I do thank everyone for the replies.

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ChinRey wrote:

Compared to an old style prim house, you can typically save 75-90% of the land impact with mesh withouth sacrificing quality. That may sound like a lot but keep in mind that you can also typically save 40-60% of the LI by updating the prims with recent build features like different physics shapes and larger prims.

Maybe I shouldn't reply to my own post but I'd like to illustrate this. Here is Gene Jacob's Beach Bungalow, a really good house by the standards of the time it was made:



Except it isn't really. Gene Jacob's house has 308 land impact and 25,343 render weight and it comes in eight parts in a rez box. This one is 129 LI, 18,043 render weight and it's a single linkset. It looks exactly the same except for one very minor detail that nobody's ever going to notice (and that would have been fixable if I had access to the textures). If I had the textures I could have reduced the LI to 124 and if I find time to do a proper delagging conversion, I expect the render weight to end up at around 12,000.

As mesh? Well, these numbers are estimates of course but for a quick-and-dirty mesh conversion with poor LoD and everything, expect around 50 LI and 30,000 render weight. For a proper cleaned up mesh with proper LoD models and all, probably around 20 LI and 20,000 render weight. For a thorough quality mesh rebuild with the extra  details mesh allows us to add, say about 30 LI and 25,000 render weight.

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So both the Gene Jacobs house and the one in the pic are prim houses, yes? And by recreating the same house in mesh, you estimate that you could reduce the LI to less than half but, in so doing, you'd increase the render weight a lot?

If that's the case, then it would be better as a prim house (lower render weight) provided that there are plenty of prims available, yes? The conclusion would be that prims are better if plenty of prims are available.

 

I'm pleased with the responses in the thread. I was curious as to whether or not houses were not done with prims any more. It seems that they are. The post in the other thread, that prompted this thread, gave me the impression that it's taken for granted that a house would be mesh.

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When I have the prims, I actually prefer a prim or mixed prim and mesh house. With prims, I don't get the error that I can't rez something out on the floor, which irritates me no end. I only buy mod houses so I can change the texturing.

I have one I got a long time ago that the maker did a decent job with the exterior textures...white castle, nice and light. But when you walked inside it was like a weight settled on you. Dark red and black textures, dark wood, and the textures didn't always match up and have the same repeats. So, I "rebuilt" it. Retextured to light woods and wainscotted walls. It was built when 10 x 10 was the max size so I was able to resize and get rid of almost half the prims in it. The textures matched too. Took me about 2 weeks, 5 hours a day, to fix it, but it was like a totally different house. Even had someone that was familiar with the build tell me they were shocked when they walked in at the differnce the textures made. I replaced the primmy staircase with a mesh one that looked very similar. When I was finished, the castle that originally had 700+ prims was down to 350 LI. 

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Phil Deakins wrote:

So both the Gene Jacobs house and the one in the pic are prim houses, yes?

 Yes. My modified version only uses prims from Gene Jacob's original which conventiently enough is full perm. I got rid of 53 of the prims by using a single large prim where the old 10 m limit forced Jacobs to use several smaller ones, by using pathcut doors instead of hinge prims and by using six pathcutand hollow prims in place of 12 individual posts under the terraces. Then I cut the LI almost in half with different physics shape types. The house can easily be reduced to about 270 prims with techniques that were available and well known back in Gene Jacob's time actually but oh well, nobody's perfect. ;)

 


Phil Deakins wrote:

And by recreating the same house in mesh, you estimate that you could reduce the LI to less than half but, in so doing, you'd increase the render weight a lot?

I'm not sure about the render weight to be honest. As far as I know, nobody's done a proper test of that and I'd rather not do it myself. Even a quick-and-dirty mesh conversion would require quite a bit of work for a build as big as this.

There is also serious reason to question how well the calculated render weight reflects the actual one. In my conversion for example I reduced the render weight by 1651.5 simply by including all four doors in the same linkset.

Regardless of the numbers, there's no doubt that prim builds tend to be significantly less render heavy than mesh though. I posted something about that in a different thread a few days ago... let me see... There it is!

https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Building-and-Texturing-Forum/In-defense-of-the-sculpt/m-p/3074126#M16145

(First paragraph in the third post in the thread.)

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Mesh houses do not NEED to have that "you can't rez" issue. It is a physics issue and when mesh was new there were tons of those houses around. Unfortunately some of the best known builders still haven't worked out that problem. The FIX  -- and it is a VERY easy one -- is to put a prim floor (or rug) in your house and then you can rez inside.

 

Obviously builders should TEST to see if they can rez in the house before they sell it LOL, but they don't all do that.

 

For me  -- aside from the land impact savings -- mesh gives you the abilitly to add many details (shapes that are not possible with prims or which represent highly tortured prims - very hard on the server).  I personally love softly baked textures (not cast shadows) in buildings as it gives a much more realistic look. That being said a mesh house can be made with baked textures and still have the ability to "change the wallpaper" easily. It's all about planning.

 

Most of the time you will not know the answers to these questions as you cannot rez in the demo area :D and it would be very difficult to figure out the mapping (how the textures are applied to mesh). You COULD ask the builder of course. 

 

I made a lot of prim houses in Opensim a year or two ago. It was fun. I like prims. But there are things you simply cannot do and designs that can't be made with just prims.

 

 

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Chic Aeon wrote:

The FIX  -- and it is a VERY easy one -- is to put a prim floor (or rug) in your house and then you can rez inside.

Just to clarify: what Chic suggests is a fix if you have a house with faulty physics. It is of course better if the house was made correctly from the start. ;)


Chic Aeon wrote:

For me  -- aside from the land impact savings -- mesh gives you the abilitly to add many details

I agree with that. All those extra details you can add with mesh is a far more important argument for mesh houses than the LI you can save.

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ChinRey wrote:


Chic Aeon wrote:

The FIX  -- and it is a VERY easy one -- is to put a prim floor (or rug) in your house and then you can rez inside.

Just to clarify: what Chic suggests is a fix if you have a house with faulty physics. It is of course better if the house was made correctly from the start.
;)
Chic Aeon wrote:

For me  -- aside from the land impact savings -- mesh gives you the abilitly to add many details

I agree with that. All those extra details you can add with mesh is a far more important argument for mesh houses than the LI you can save.

Concur with you two. Mesh enables me to do things that would be impossible or prohibitively high LI with plain prims. 

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