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Elena Core

Are SL avatars getting too complex?

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I've been in SL for quite a few years, and I've always found my way around with no tutorials needed. However, with all the new features being released lately, I'm getting all mixed up; I actually got the Maitreya body update recently and I don't even know what half the hud options mean. 

Are SL avatars getting too complex with Mesh, appliers, BOM.. options? Is anyone also confused or is it just me?

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You are not alone lol I just spent more than an hour messing up my avi and putting it back together had it ok got distracted talking to someone and messed up again. Having a break before I go completely mad 😡 

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20 minutes ago, Elena Core said:

I've been in SL for quite a few years, and I've always found my way around with no tutorials needed. However, with all the new features being released lately, I'm getting all mixed up; I actually got the Maitreya body update recently and I don't even know what half the hud options mean. 

Are SL avatars getting too complex with Mesh, appliers, BOM.. options? Is anyone also confused or is it just me?

I think yes and no.

Bakes on Mesh, which is the reason behind the Maitreya update, will -- or at least should -- make clothing and customization easier in the future, because it's supposed to allow us to abandon appliers and use system layers again. Eventually, when the system is more fully supported by creators of skins, tattoos, makeup, and clothing, we should be back to something that's a bit more like the old days of system avatars. There will be somewhat more complexity still, a function of much more realistic and customizable mesh bodies and heads, but once the transitional phase is over, and everything is fully supported by creators, I don't think the HUDs will seem as confusing as they do now.

The problem at the moment is that we are in that transitional phase. In part that means that there is a new learning curve for older residents, and it's complicated by the fact that we're using a combination of old and new systems -- appliers and system layers. And, there is little standardization between makers, so each new mesh body presents fresh challenges.

The other problem, which is a perennial and old one, is that we -- or LL -- do not provide enough simple guidance for this. Their are instructions from Maitreya, Slink, et al., and their are widely scattered video tutorials, but these aren't always readily accessible. AND who wants to watch a half hour video just so that they can make their avi presentable?

So yes. But it should get better eventually. (Until someone comes up with a new bright idea for adding realism or options, and the whole thing gets unmanageably complicated again.)

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
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5 minutes ago, Laika Ravikumar said:

You are not alone lol I just spent more than an hour messing up my avi and putting it back together had it ok got distracted talking to someone and messed up again. Having a break before I go completely mad 😡 

Thank you Laika. I have set a mesh head in a separate folder, because it's a mess anytime I need to apply something new. More than getting mad, I get so frustrated

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Oh, no ur not alone. Technologies always goes ahead and pretty fast, if u don't interest much in it to dig in there, always will be that period when u lagging behind. Such world like sl, wich created by community itselfs always will have huge pack of tools  to improve, every day someone brings something new on it.

I'm usually just follow blogs and video reviews to be aware of developments.

So it's up to u) u can find all info u need if u interested. About maitreya, novata upload good review on it.

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1 minute ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

So yes. But it should get better eventually. (Until someone comes up with a new bright idea for adding realism or options, and the whole thing gets unmanageably complicated again.)

Thank you Scylla, so there's hope! 

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   Nah.

   I mean, old-timey avatars weren't always all that simple either, there were features I didn't know about for ages before someone pointed them out (like, system layer order). The learning curve for new things in SL is often steep, and sometimes as new features are made possible, it's something we all have to go through.

   By the time I got my first mesh body I was fairly on board with most things of the old system avatars, I think - and then I had to start over, but with it being a new thing it wasn't difficult finding help.

   New people in SL finding mesh stuff 'difficult' to work with, well, they never had to deal with the old stuff that was often as difficult, if sometimes not more so. The amount of people showing up at Oxbridge wearing 13 pairs of shoes and 8 hairs all attached to their butts back in the day ...

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Just now, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Wait. That wasn't deliberate?

   I mean, perhaps they were closet-nekos? 

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1 hour ago, Elena Core said:

I've been in SL for quite a few years, and I've always found my way around with no tutorials needed. However, with all the new features being released lately, I'm getting all mixed up; I actually got the Maitreya body update recently and I don't even know what half the hud options mean. 

Are SL avatars getting too complex with Mesh, appliers, BOM.. options? Is anyone also confused or is it just me?

Well, I've been here for a few years as well, I had an avatar which only had an AO control, which it wasn't so complex, but now I have an aesthetic mesh body, literally you have to unpack almost every part of it. (It included a bento hands and bento head) that means that it let's you control almost every part of your body. 

It let's you change your skin color and its gloss, it has alpha layers for E-V-E-R-Y part of your body, and expression hud, a bento hand hud. That was something I wasn't used to, so yeah, basically they're getting more complex.

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I think that over the past 4 years or so they have become much more complicated than they used to be, but I do also agree with @Scylla Rhiadra; I think Bakes on Mesh will, when fully implemented, reduce that complexity again. It's almost as easy to dress a mesh avatar using BoM as it was to dress a classic avatar.  I don't think I've touched my head's hud in weeks, except when I need to hide or un-hide my ears for swapping with mesh elf-ears.

In some ways though, pre-mesh outfits were much more complex than mesh ones. In a mesh outfit you get one top, one skirt or pair of pants, one pair of shoes. With a few alternative sizes to be ignored, and a hud to change the textures/colours.  Pre-mesh, an outfit could comprise of more than a dozen parts and options just for the top, and the same again for the pants. And with all the colour options included as separate pieces. And then you had to figure out which of the 50+ items in the box you need to actually wear to make one full outfit.

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4 hours ago, Matty Luminos said:

Pre-mesh, an outfit could comprise of more than a dozen parts and options just for the top, and the same again for the pants. And with all the colour options included as separate pieces. And then you had to figure out which of the 50+ items in the box you need to actually wear to make one full outfit.

There's a point there. I remember those skirts with underpants and 5 different flexi prims. But somehow, I could easily manage and now I need to check tutorials.

It might be the type of specific vocabulary being used, and the fact that English is not my native language, who  knows... It seems you all agree it will be easier in the future, so that gives me some hope, thank you guys, 

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3 hours ago, Elena Core said:

It might be the type of specific vocabulary being used, and the fact that English is not my native language, who  knows...

   ... ... Yes. Yes! What we need is a Latin taxonomy, á la Linnaeus. As a Swede, I believe the duty is mine - let's see ...

   Skin applier: 𝕬𝖕𝖕𝖑𝖎𝖈𝖎𝖕𝖚𝖘 𝕯𝖊𝖗𝖒𝖆𝖋𝖑𝖎𝖈𝖐𝖎𝖇𝖚𝖘

   ... This would probably be easier if I'd actually studied Latin at some point ... Promptly throws in the towel.

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4 hours ago, Elena Core said:

There's a point there. I remember those skirts with underpants and 5 different flexi prims. But somehow, I could easily manage and now I need to check tutorials.

 

I think you're remembering how you could do things after you had learned them the first time.

When you start a new activity you have to learn a lot all at once, but then you get to the point where you're used to it no matter how complicated it is. (Or, of course, you just think it isn't worth the trouble and you quit.)

If you're already doing that activity learning new techniques may seem more complicated because you're mentally out of the "learning" mode, and you may also think, "I already know how to do it this way, why should I learn how to do it that way? I often hear older SL users talk about how "intuitive" Viewer 1 was compared to Viewer 2-->. I started with Viewer 2 and found it quite easy to use. When everyone started telling me to use Phoenix because it was "So Much Better (now wait while I clear my cache)" I tried it and found it unusable.

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Part of the problem here is that Bakes on Mesh should have been a Day One feature when mesh was released. Can you imagine how smooth the transition from system to mesh bodies would have been if skins etc could still be used, with no need for appliers?

Instead SL spent many years learning how to function with a system built from duct tape and cable ties; yet still radically different from the system avatars experience everyone begins with. And now that consensus is being partially demolished once more.

So no, I don't think avatars are getting more complicated; but they are forcing many residents to go through a learning and adaptation phase once more. And not everyone likes that, or can adapt quickly.

Edited by AyelaNewLife
I did typo
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17 hours ago, Elena Core said:

Are SL avatars getting too complex with Mesh, appliers, BOM.. options? Is anyone also confused or is it just me?

Well, I'm sure you remember the time when we'd buy clothes and then have to adjust each add-on sculptie in place and then resize it, that could be 4 pieces sometimes for something like a jacket and we had a lot less points, I remember the Spine was always premium real estate to add stuff, I remember linking different components so I could attach that 1 resulting object to the spine because we could only have 1 object per point.
So in that regard, these days you just add your clothes and you are done... even if by default most come attached to the Right Hand which makes my eye twitch but that's another matter...

For the bodies themselves, yeah, this is the kinda thing that makes new users quit and that (contrary to some beliefs) is a real problem for SL.
I'm just gonna throw an opinion on here (for the nay sayers to say it's terrible) the time is right to rework the mesh on the base avatars.

But Dean, won't that break everything and the plagues of Egypt come down on us? Wait, are base avatars even mesh?
Yes, the base avatars are all mesh and you can even get it as it is open source.
Now, go to shape editor, what's at the top? Change gender, when you click that you are actually swapping the mesh body of your avatar.
So the system can already do that. Leave those as they are (for compatibility sake) add in 2 new versions, with higher polygon count.
These new versions would use the same UV and work identically to the base avatars, only they would be Bento rigged and with a lot more triangles, enough to get them comparable to these third party bodies in terms of roundness.

But Dean, we don't need avatars with more triangles bogging everything down.
Well, look at what that attitude got us?
These mesh bodies are a hack job from the community trying to fix something, namely mesh avatars made in ~2002 they are way pass it at this point and LL would agree, do we remember the full mesh ones that are buried now? The ones you couldn't customize in any way? Well clearly LL was trying to make it so the starter avatars would look better.
They can do that better now by offering this OPTIONAL choice, and the reason I say the timing is good is because BoM will bring back layers which can be used by starter avatars.
Since they would work just like the base avatars of today, they wouldn't have 3 extra layers which again, was a community hack to allow for add ons on the skin which brought these bodies to a triangle count so high I think LL themselves called these bodies a something akin to a DDoS attack.

But Dean, won't that mean LL would be competing with creators if they make these lovely heads and bodies look as round as the third party offerings?
Yes and no, there are still advantages to have a third party body, namely the support in clothes.
For the heads, the advantage is also on the fact that you have a non standard base to work from that you can shape it, remember, before mesh heads we were all making our shapes off the base default LL head.
A huge advantage in this new hypothetical OPTIONAL higher polygon starter avatar would be to bridge the social gap between users. Yes, that is a thing, walk around a bit reading some profiles and you will see something like "I work hard for my avatar to look this good, don't talk to me if you aren't mesh" which is yet another of many hurdles a new user has to overcome.

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20 minutes ago, Dean Haystack said:

I'm just gonna throw an opinion on here (for the nay sayers to say it's terrible) the time is right to rework the mesh on the base avatars.

This isn't a horrendous idea at all, but it will depend entirely on the implementation. This would need to be done to fit the existing system as much as possible.

You'd need the body, head and hair as separate pieces, with either HUD driven or detachable foot shapes, and with a "starter pack" of hair bases, hairs, makeup tattoos, and both mesh and layer clothing. The starter avatars you choose from are nothing more than a selection of these components pre-attached for your convenience.

This would allow new residents to swap pieces in and out as they grow, rather than being faced with a solid wall of "all the starter stuff and freebies (and often cheap purchases) are useless, throw everything away and buy everything from scratch at once".

Would creators support this? I don't know. Maybe. They don't currently support the free or noob-bait cheap mesh bodies, so possibly not. 

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21 hours ago, Elena Core said:

I've been in SL for quite a few years, and I've always found my way around with no tutorials needed. However, with all the new features being released lately, I'm getting all mixed up; I actually got the Maitreya body update recently and I don't even know what half the hud options mean. 

Are SL avatars getting too complex with Mesh, appliers, BOM.. options? Is anyone also confused or is it just me?

I thought I had it ok...and then I spent the entire afternoon changing my outfit. After that it took me quite some time working out where this post went. Phew, it is all complicated.

Some bits are easier, others not so much but I guess we'll learn and we wouldn't be here if we couldn't!

Like @AyelaNewLife said above, the complication arise from new things being piled onto old things which were a bit of a wobbly heap to begin with.

 

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Getting more complicated? I suppose that depends on where you are starting from.

If you come into SL from any of the other games that allows you to customize your avatar then SL probably seems complex and getting more so.

SL was initially designed to be a gaming prototyping platform. So, its background is as a technical development system not a game designed for ease of use by players. The techs developing products here stretch the system. These are a bunch of freelancing geeks experimenting and trying things to see what they can get to work. We have a wide range of things that sort of work. The more popular of those experiments get adopted and become ubiquitous, meaning we all end up having to figure out how they work and how we use them. If you are here without a background in 3D modeling and virtual world construction then you are at a disadvantage and things can be really confusing.

The Lab pretty much caters to developers. The developers cater to what we call the residents or users. Thus the complexity we perceive is mostly a matter of how well the developers can explain something.

I think Slink has made a simpler to use BoM body and HUD. It looks like Maitreya has provided more options and thus more complexity.

I do think the next generation of peeps coming into SL will have an easier time of it because of BoM, fi we can get away from talking about BoM. For now we are telling new people to be sure get a BoM body and of course they ask what is BoM and we explain the whole mess we have been through with appliers and totally confuse them. Slink eliminates any BoM options in their Redux body. It just is BoM, which I thing was the Linden dream of how it would be used. There is no need to even know about BoM with Slink.

I see Maitreya as a transition body being a combination of BoM and applier options. That necessitates users understand all the mess we have been dealing with and how to deal with it all. While the update is a good thing and an improvement we may see more of the OP type of questions in 2020. I have little hope we can avoid that because developers tend to look at what people want and give it to them, generally more options needed or not. They don't consider 'new user learning curves and retention problems' as part of their design process. That part gets left to the Lindens. The Lindens give design flexibility and easy of use considerations with designers in mind with some effort made to keep things simple... simple for new designers.

For the time I have been around things have been eventually working out... It isn't the end. But, designers could simplify things by making everything BoM compliant/dependent and never mentioning it again.

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