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Posted (edited)

I'm 12 years and 8 months old in SL so you'd think I'd be an expert by now. I'm not. To be honest, I'm still a bit of a newbie. I'm a regular but infrequent visitor so I don't get time to immerse myself. I just love to pop in and dance, or wander through a beautiful sim, or ride a tram in a steampunk world. It's a bit of escapism for me.

That's not to say I take SL lightly. Back in 2007, it seemed to have limitless possibilities. And in 2009, I jointly ran In-service training courses for UK teachers - in Second Life! Instead of travelling to the professional development centre, they joined in a six week course from their own homes. We sat on beanbags beside the sea and had presentations, videos, discussions, etc.

In those days, you had a basic avatar and could buy clothes or get them free. The focus was on what you could do in a virtual word. But nowadays it's confused by higher quality graphics and I'm just left behind . . .

My question is about Mesh and Bento - two words that mean very little to me so I'm looking for a real beginners' guide. I typed "Mesh basics" in search (you'd think that would do it, wouldn't you?) But I got a list of topics that included these words (which are, to me at least, pretty meaningless: "dev kits, canmesh, bento, Maitreya, Belleza, MAV_BLOCK_MISSING, Blender, Mesh Multi C&T, Mesh body requirements on RP Sim, Bentomesh head, rezzing, catwa meshead"

OK, I do know what rezzing is, but what if I didn't? How do newbies ever get started and how does an oldie like me even begin to understand what's going on? I need a pointer to a basic guide if anyone can help please.

Many thanks

Brian Smith (Aristotle.Smit)

(PS. you'll see that the icon by my name is still an old style avatar. I do have a mesh? bento? avatar, complete with AO but I've no idea what I'm doing with it)

Edited by Aristotle Smit
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Going on a limb here to explain some things briefly to you but I'll be corrected if so soon enough.

Your systemavatar has changed over the years. There's been an extra skeleton added to the sytemavatar enabling your avatar to do animations your systemavatar was unable to do before. Facial expression and hand / finger - animations are better defined. That's the Bento-part. You need to wear Bento-compatible parts to make use of it ( Very summary this and probably not quite correct ).

Your avatar can wear new meshes which support this Bento-feature, but there are not real set standards. Every merchant sets their own and collaborates with creators of individual heads. This has led to a new market where body and head combinations are sprouting. Brands of bodies are Belleza, Signature, TMP, Aesthetic, etc .. Brands of heads are Catwa, Lelutka, etc.

These heads and bodies not only contain the possibilities for Bento animations, they can also be 'skinned' with more layers than you were used to.

It's indeed a maze to get through.  Good luck on that journey.

You'll find many willing to help you with better advice than mine.

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Start with this for the basics: http://blog.nalates.net/2017/04/10/second-life-mesh-vs-classic-bodies/

TDD is accurate in his writing. I'm not sure it will be clear to you from your knowledge point. So I'll say the same things another way with some historical perspective.

You started SL with a Classic avatar. At the time Ruth or Roth. They, like everything in SL, are mesh. All mesh is a list of vertices describing polygons which your viewer draws and paints. For Ruth and Roth (now Classic) that list is built into the viewer. There was (in Ruth/Roth's case "is") no way for a user to change that list and share it with others. Whichever viewer you have it uses the list built into that viewer.

Mesh was added about 2013. Users could then make their own mesh items and upload lists of vertices/polygons. In SL jargon we call those things 'mesh'. These are shared items and everyone can see them. So, some made better feet as the Classic feet are, by today's standard, horrible looking. Then  better hands were made. Then bodies and heads. Now we mostly combine body, hands, and feet but use a separate head.

In the pre-mesh days for better performance a thing called server side baking (SSB) was added to SL. The idea was to reduce the skin, tattoo, underwear, clothes, and jacket layer textures (images) we wear to one texture. Or convert 5 images into one composite image to save download and render time. Worked well but only with Classic avatar layers.

Our 'mesh' items in SL can have only one texture. In modeling terms we could have one 'diffuse' (color) texture per mesh (I am simplifying). When materials were added to SL we could also add Normal and Specular maps to our mesh. This let us make more realistic looking clothes and stuff. 

But, we needed layers. We could add skin color, but there was no way to add a tattoo unless it was part of the skin. Designers solved the layering problems by "onion-skinning" the body, feet, hands, head. They were like Russian dolls, those with smaller and smaller dolls inside each other. Now we had the problem of way more polygons and textures per avatar and performance suffered.

As a solution BOM, bakes on mesh, was made as an enhanced SSB. Now we can take all the textures used in the onionskins and composite them for a single polygon layer body as we used to do with the old system layers, skin, tat, etc.

We have sort of come full circle from how did things pre-mesh to using the same basics with our new avatars.

 

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I am also in a similar boat here.  My head swims when I try to figure out the whole mesh thing.  What you posted was extremely helpful, thank you so much! I am 12 years and 4 months old but kind of stopped coming around the time mesh was being added.  I love my system av but am open to changing to mesh.  What I don't understand is what is better about mesh?  Thanks for any help you can give to us old newbies!!  Also, am I understanding that if I get an applier I can still use the classic skins I bought years ago (or try to see if they work with the body/face)?

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Posted (edited)

Hello Brian,

welcome back and don't feel alone it took me a super long time to go mesh and lots of trial and error, (still don't have it where i would like to). I'm attaching some sites that i think will assist you in your project.

http://www.virtualbloke.com/  (this is Skells blog and he visits here regularly so i'm sure he will be by to add to your information).

https://strawberrysingh.com/  (this is Strawberrys blog )

don't forget to have patience with yourself, this is all a long process at least it was/is for me : )

Kind Regards,

Josephine

Edited by Josephine Carissa
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Hello everyone!  I am new here and I recently purchased a Legacy mesh body.  As soon as I tried it, I liked it but I noticed that my body glowed at night.  So I went to the HUD to deactivate the function but I was not able and I still cannot.  After all, I said to myself, it won't be a problem.  I bought a head, but it doesn't shine in the dark.  I tried to activate the head function and it didn't work.  Could anyone help me?

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54 minutes ago, Sammi Washborne said:

I am also in a similar boat here.  My head swims when I try to figure out the whole mesh thing.  What you posted was extremely helpful, thank you so much! I am 12 years and 4 months old but kind of stopped coming around the time mesh was being added.  I love my system av but am open to changing to mesh.  What I don't understand is what is better about mesh?  Thanks for any help you can give to us old newbies!!  Also, am I understanding that if I get an applier I can still use the classic skins I bought years ago (or try to see if they work with the body/face)?

There are problems with the classic avatar that annoy people. A couple are; the distortion of the chest when sitting or bending over. It looks like the stomach has slide under the rib cage. Then there is the way the UV map distorts in the groin area. Also with some shapes the chunkyness of the classic body is annoyingly apparent showing spikes and bend points in what should be smooth curves. With mesh bodies the polygon layout, vertex weighting, and the UV map can all be improved and have been.

Some mesh bodies have problems. Maitreya shoulders annoy a number of people. Some lack features people want. Neither the Classic avatar or mesh bodies are prefect. Almost any mesh body will have fewer 'appearance' problems than the Classic body. 

In the simplest terms, mesh bodies look better. Not everyone can see that. I have a problem with avatar bodies that have elbows and knees that bend like a plastic straw and the small oddly shaped shoulders. But, thousands of people don't seem to notice. I think this shows there is a significant personal perception and preference in the 'mesh is better' idea.

21 minutes ago, BeckyGY said:

Hello everyone!  I am new here and I recently purchased a Legacy mesh body.  As soon as I tried it, I liked it but I noticed that my body glowed at night.  So I went to the HUD to deactivate the function but I was not able and I still cannot.  After all, I said to myself, it won't be a problem.  I bought a head, but it doesn't shine in the dark.  I tried to activate the head function and it didn't work.  Could anyone help me?

Your question is off-topic. You would be better off posting in the thread about Legacy or asking for help in the answers section. Or... even starting a new thread.

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Some people have told me classic avs make you look like a noob.  I can see the points you are talking about.  I bought a really expensive couple of skins I LOVE and basically identify with, with BoM can I still try to use them?

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Posted (edited)

@Sammi Washborne Here's a link to the store of merchant Signature. You can find a demo there. 

Other merchants might be found with inworld search ( viewr ) better or quicker than Marketplace.

 

I have no affilliation with them aside having bought one of their products. Owning 3 bodies and 4 heads by now from as many vendors .. :|

 

 

Edited by TDD123
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With some help in world and with the resources you guys have given me I finally pulled the trigger and am SOOOOO happy with what I ended up with.  It was a lovely mother's day present from my son and husband to be able to spend so much in game.  Now I am working on my husband's transition.  What are the best and most popular male Ava makers?  I am finding very few options.  I'd love one that isn't ripped to crazy amounts and also need advice on good compatible functioning "parts".  Thank you in advance!!

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Posted (edited)

Most importantly .. get an Aeros ( search it on MP ) .. recommended ( that's  ... err... that specific part :P )

Edited by TDD123
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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, TDD123 said:

Most importantly .. get an Aeros ( search it on MP ) .. recommended ( that's  ... err... that specific part :P )

Do not buy it before you have tried "The P" The Physics C***. Or Birth with items like Mr. Smooth and Zeus.

In my opinion, Aeros is yesterdays big thing (no pun intended).

Edited by Marianne Little
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26 minutes ago, Sammi Washborne said:

With some help in world and with the resources you guys have given me I finally pulled the trigger and am SOOOOO happy with what I ended up with.  It was a lovely mother's day present from my son and husband to be able to spend so much in game.  Now I am working on my husband's transition.  What are the best and most popular male Ava makers?  I am finding very few options.  I'd love one that isn't ripped to crazy amounts and also need advice on good compatible functioning "parts".  Thank you in advance!!

How important is the wardrobe? Signature Gianni* and Belleza Jake has most content made for them. But, Legacy male is upcoming in the clothes department.

I will say that Legacy is a body that can be slimmer than the others. Gianni and Jake have big muscle built in that can not be really reduced by moving the muscle slider down. The muscles is smaller, but the mesh topography is what it was made as.

Slink Physique male can also be slimmer. If Legacy male is upcoming, Slink is going down in the amount of clothing made for it. It is still enough to keep a male avatar, who has no special interest in a large wardrobe, happy. Not every vendor will have Slink or Legacy sizes, but it is still others.

I would say that the look of the body is what matters. Unless you are a male Flickr model, or a blogger, who makes new outfits every week, you will find enough for these four.

For the head, I will also suggest to take what brand you bought for yourself. It is easier to help if you only have to learn one type of HUD. At least if it is LeLutka or Catwa. They have the majority of male skin "faces" made for them.

*Signature Geralt has not been picked up by many, and you have problems finding sizes for that body.

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On 5/10/2020 at 12:00 PM, Sammi Washborne said:

Some people have told me classic avs make you look like a noob.  I can see the points you are talking about.  I bought a really expensive couple of skins I LOVE and basically identify with, with BoM can I still try to use them?

The major body and head makers support BOM and their new stuff and updates generally have a BOM button. So, yes you can use your classic/system skins with BOM mesh bodies.

Finding body makers is easy. Open in-world search and type Slink, change to Places, and click search. Do the same with Maitreya, Belleza, Catwa, GA.EG, and others. Most of the listings will say main store for the correct link. Those that don't usually only have one place listed.

As an alternative, visit the marketplace. In search change to Merchants and Stores. Enter the brand name and click search. In the results it is easy to see which is the brand merchant and not just a reseller. Pick any one of the merchant's items. Look at the bottom of the item description for a link to the in-world store. Or shop using the marketplace. It avoids the lag of being in a busy store.

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1 hour ago, Marianne Little said:

Do not buy it before you have tried "The P" The Physics C***. Or Birth with items like Mr. Smooth and Zeus.

In my opinion, Aeros is yesterdays big thing (no pun intended).

How come you are so knowledgeable about male genitialia ?  Barely dusted off mine for usage. :P

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Hello everyone.

A million thanks to you all for your comments.

I'm going to go through everything and hopefully become a bit more competent.

I'm grateful to you all. I'll report back on my progress soon.

Best wishes everyone and stay safe IRL.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you, Nalates Urriah, for the link to your "Things and Stuff". It's very useful and full of information.

Looking  back, I must have joined fairly early on, but I don't remember Ruth and Roth. I do remember a lot of free clothes etc. some of which referred to the "boy next door" and the "girl next door" as well as some other characters. Perhaps these followed on from Ruth and Roth?

 

Edited by Aristotle Smit
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On 5/10/2020 at 10:38 AM, Sammi Washborne said:

What I don't understand is what is better about mesh?

Classic avatar clothing is all just painted-on, skin-tight textures. Accessories like belts, holsters and shoes can be add-on objects but there was originally no way to make things like a hanging vest or puffy snow pants -- articles that stuck out from the body and bent with the joints. We can make mesh clothing now that flexes with the body, but since all clothing is built for one particular base shape and because your body shape sliders affect mesh clothing slightly differently than they affect the classic avatar, you generally can't mix the two.

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7 hours ago, Aristotle Smit said:

Thank you, Nalates Urriah, for the link to your "Things and Stuff". It's very useful and full of information.

Looking  back, I must have joined fairly early on, but I don't remember Ruth and Roth. I do remember a lot of free clothes etc. some of which referred to the "boy next door" and the "girl next door" as well as some other characters. Perhaps these followed on from Ruth and Roth?

If you weren't into the SL tech you likely would not have come across the Ruth/Roth names.  I came in early 2008.

Boy and Girl next door were starter avatars. They popped into the system about June 2008. You can find them in the Inventory/Library/Male Shape & Outfit.

Ruth/Roth were also known as the Test Male/Female. However, the Ruth/Roth in use in 2008 got updated with the June 2008 Boy/Girl Next Door outfits. I would have to do some digging to get a date when that happened. Both Ruth and Roth are the classic avatar. Their current appearance is just an updated outfit. They are still the avatar based on the built-into-viewer-avatar.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks to you all, again.

I'm in a situation like many I suspect. I love SL but my RL wife simply doesn't get it and sees any time I spend inworld as a waste of time. Ah me!

So my exploration of Mesh is proceeding extremely slowly. But I'm grateful to you all. I'm gradually getting my head round the concepts.

One (probably silly) question: what does BoM mean? In fact, I know it means "Baked on Mesh" thanks to Natales, but I actually don't know what "MESH" is exactly nor what baking on means. And then there's BENTO. This will probably make you all shake your heads in despair and say there's no hope for me . . . but read on . . 

The problem with almost everything is  that when you're involved in it, the terminology becomes second nature. A newcomer to the subject can be thrown by the simplest expressions. I once read that in order to begin learning Astrophysics or nuclear fusion, you need to start with the Ladybird book (a UK children's series - very simple and pictorial). You get the idea.

So when Natales said: "As a solution BOM, bakes on mesh, was made as an enhanced SSB", I sort of saw she was getting at . . . but what's "baked on"; what exactly is Mesh, and what's SSB?" And when she said "add Normal and Specular maps to our mesh" I was, sadly, lost.

But I'm getting the overall idea and I shall explore all the links that people have kindly included.

Despite the icon by my messages, I have had a Mesh body and outfit (I think) for some time but it's all a bit random and mostly luck. I'll attach some screenshots. I kept the original glasses and hair because I liked them and didn't know how to set about getting replacements. It seems to work but isn't ideal.

I'd appreciate any comments if anyone is willing to critique my online presence. You may of course be as rude as you like. I shan't be offended and all feedback is useful including the very negative.

Thanks again,

Brian

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Screenshot 2020-05-20 at 12.54.30.jpg

Edited by Aristotle Smit
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Posted (edited)

Starting from the bottom with your questions, the Tellaq Sinclair is not a mesh avatar. You can see that if you look close at hands, feet and facial expressions. The Tellaq is the base starter avatar with a better skin. Its nails is blurry paint and the feet look like paddles.

EDIT: The pinkies is hidden because they are curled a bit more... the hands is also photographed in an angle that don't show them. So they are not missing! 😉

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Bento is the new bones that allow facial expressions and the way the fingers move. Bento bones is added several places to the skeleton, you can have wings that move and tail that move. Without animations, it is the body moving. You can also have the male attachment moving, swaying, wiggling when walking and dancing nude.

You must have mesh bodyparts made for these bones, marked "Bento". It does not work on the default, classic avatar.

The question now is: Do you want or need this? Since you have a RL partner, I guess you won't undress and show off your chiseled mesh body for a hookup in SL. But it is many other reasons, looking good on the beach without hitting up someone. Or it is an open relationship.

You have a nice set of mesh clothes. You can continue to use them and buy more clothes like this. No one see other parts than the hands if this is how you want to dress. If you think it would be fun or cool to have fingers that actually work and look good, and a face that can move, you can buy just a head and hands.

My alt has the meshbody Signature Gianni and a Catwa Daniel head. They are brand names. When he shall change skin, he need skin made for this combination. When he shops for clothes, he is shopping for the Signature Gianni body.

The mesh body parts was made to replace the default Second Life body, because we became more and more frustrated with the SL body who has not been updated since the start. We used them by putting an alpha layer on the whole avatar, or just where we would use a mesh bodypart. We had to forget about the skins and the old clothes you are used to, they who look like body paint. All this became invisible.

To change style on the mesh body parts, the skin, tattoos and clothes was sold with appliers that painted the correct texture on the mesh body parts. The bodies was sold with 3 onion layers, tattoo, underwear and clothes. The faces had numbers of slots for makeups and hairbases. But it was like walking around with 4 identical bodies, because even if we did not use the onion layers, they were always there. Designers does not sell mesh body parts as modify. It is no way to take the onion layers off.

The BOM solution goes a step back. Now the old style skin, tattoos and layers show up on the mesh body parts. You will see that my alt only hides his eyes with an alpha layer. His "Aeros" skin and tattoos are from 2014. His Stray Dog tattoo parts are new, from 2020. We do not need to use the onion layers. The reason it is several hairbases, is because I was lazy and didn't bother take off the hidden ones. We can use 62 different layers, so it is an enormous freedom.

Skin sellers that made appliers, have to sell skins and tattoos the old way again.

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Edited by Marianne Little
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Wow! Thanks Marianne. It just shows how confusing it all is. I could have sworn I'd bought a Mesh body (even though I didn't know exactly what one of those is).

I'm getting clearer in my mind. It's interesting that I do have Mesh clothes but not a mesh body. I had to wear an alpha layer because skin was showing through the clothes. I assumed that was the classic avatar which (I think) we all still have.

Thanks to Natales and her excellent blog page, I now see what the icons and boxes mean in the inventory.

It's all a learning adventure!

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The first two replies to my question (by TDD and Natales) were helpful when I first read them, but my understanding was very poor.

I'm finding that, as my knowledge grows, they make more sense. For example, I've just noticed that Natales did explain BOM and SSB. It's just that they didn't make sense when I first read them. This time round, they made much more sense. I've a long way to go but I'm getting there with your help, everyone.

Looking at SL history, is this summary about right? :-

1. There's the classic avatar, then there's Mesh, then onion skins and then Bento . . . and nothing will fit very well if you're not careful?

2. Classic clothes looked like they were painted on (true - that always bothered me) whereas mesh clothes look like clothes.

3. "Fitted Mesh" is a later, improved mesh body?

4. Mesh products are created by many residents but it's best to stick to one seller if you want everything to fit?

Do those four makes sense? They're an oversimplification I'm sure but am I on the right lines?

Thanks 🙂

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