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Penny Patton

A Matter of Scale - How scale affects content creation and land ownership in Second Life.

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Good article, thanks Penny!

 I took your advice and scaled my avatar down a couple years ago. I do notice more people are doing this when I wander about the grid, so maybe there is more acceptance of this idea than some people realize. 

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Jo Yardley wrote:

[...] It is plain weird that they never considered using the same scale for the avatars. [...]

oddly enough I think they did originally... and then tweaked the avatars to "look better" using the bad default camera settings and no reference to scale against....

for me it's not about the social arms race, it's about the effect of cheating yourself out of land area and prim usage

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If you are thinking of a place to put your information on scale and building in SL, consider putting it in the SL Wiki. 

I started my building in SL after reading the wiki and used those suggestions. Your OP points make lots of sense. I only found this post because Lee ponzu placed a note into the Open Source Development mailing list with a link. I've added it to my blog, so my friends can see it. I know a couple of what I label big name tutorial makers and I'll be pointing them to this thread.

Torley Linden is fun and he might help or at least advise you on how to add your information to the wiki.

 

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My AV  is maybe on the tall end of reality (not that it's exactly meant to be real), but I'm not one of the giants. In any case, we can have two distinct scales in many situations. There's the visual scale, based on avatar appearence, and scale effects arising from such things as Physics limits. Nothing can move faster than 572mph and that's an insane speed to try and cross a sim boundary at.

Yet people making working models of rifles, and use them in simulated combat. The bullets move at around half that speed (there are quantisation effects), somewhere around 1/15 of the speed of a real bullet, maybe a dozen times the speed of an Olympic sprinter, so you have a lead a moving target is if it was a thousand metres away rather than a hundred,

That sort of difference, weapon-effect scales and scenery scales, is commonplace in wargaming with scale models.

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Here's an addendum to the section about camera placement. I included some screenshots to illustrate and a more thorough explanation of the problems with SL's current camera placement.

Unfortunately, I've reached the character limit in the original post so I can't add it there directly.

 

1) They can improve the camera placement. All it takes to vastly improve the SL camera placement is changing a few numbers in the debug menu. Anyone can do this easily, but only a very small minority tend to change defaults so it would be ideal if LL changed the defaults themselves. Instructions on how to do so are here. 

Here are some screenshots illustrating what I mean about camera placement. On the left is the default SL camera placement. On the right are my custom settings, which are based on the "over the shoulder" view that has been the popular standard in third person videogames since 2005.

camera_outdoors.jpg

In an open air environment there's not too many issues with obscured vision, but you are more detached from your avatar. It's more like watching a character on a screen as opposed to seeing the world first hand. The lower camera angle brings you into the world with your avatar.

 

camera_indoors.jpg

Once you wander inside, the problems with SL's camera become more apparent. You can see that the camera is pushed close so most of your avatar is cut off, making it more difficult to navigate if the room is furnished or has other obstacles.

What can't be shown well in screenshots is that the default camera is continuously  "popping" through the wall or the support beams in the ceiling above. If you try to zoom in to compensate for the small room, you wind up with only the very tip of your avatar's head onscreen, and you still have issues with the ceiling.

 These issues are entirely absent with the "over the shoulder camera. I was even able to create and navigate a fully furnished recreation of one of my previous real world apartments, where the main room was only about 6mx6m with a 2.5m high ceiling.

Here is a link to a Jira entry requesting this change.

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Nice, I'm all ready to reset my camera once I find your other post on it and figure out how to do it. It'll have to wait though, because I'm tired and hungry... lol.

Oh okay, found it here... nap time. sleeping.gif

...Dres

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Nalates Urriah wrote:

If you are thinking of a place to put your information on scale and building in SL, consider putting it in the SL Wiki. 

Looking into setting this up as an article there.

Thanks for the suggestion!

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It's good information, and I see the point about prim and land usage. The camera setting info is also great.

But I  wish this whole crusade had never started.  Before folks started obsessing about avatar height the world was fairly consistent, if overblown.  Now I have a short shape for when I am in the presence of forum & SLU members, and a taller shape for when I am in more public settings.  The large shape is particularly useful in some of SL's older, classic builds. 

When I wear the short shape, I get unsolicited messages of praise from short shaped avatars, and queries as to whether I am a child from less tuned-in avatars.  Both are annoying.

It seems to me that shorter shapes show more distortion when in movement, particularly twisting movements, due to the blockiness in portions of SL's avatar mesh.  I wouldn't be surprised if this is why LL ended up skewing avatars tall.

 

 

 

 

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Dresden Ceriano wrote:


Penny Patton wrote:

 I've been trying to point out these issues for years (since about the time I joined SL in 2005) . I'm sure there's plenty of people in this forum who can vouch for that.

And have you gotten anywhere with it? (And no, I'm not being facetious.) You're talking about a complete change of scale for a whole world that's grossly unrealistically scaled. Getting everyone to start scaling things differently would be a major feat, one I'm not sure if even LL could accomplish. But for it to happen, it would have to start with LL... they started it, after all.

Actually I think she has. Look around the grid and you'll see a growing number of people paying attention to -proportions- and scale - and not just in avatars. Several times this last week I've TPed into random builds and seen a smaller scale - something that used to happen now and then. And the smaller scale is often consistent across unlrelated people. The down-scalers just go 'let me base my scale off of some factor of reality rather than just rezzing a random prim' - and that leads them to not identical but yet still similar results.

As to the notion of SL scale being 125% of RL - the arm slider doesn't agree... in fact the arm slider is so troubled that I'm not sure even normal scale avatars can have proper arms if they're up to 6' or more. Not sure there...

 

I've been about my RL scale since 2006 on my original avatar, and I've only ever had one comment on it of a negative nature, in a conversation that quickly resulted in getting a compliment for my AVs looks... ;)

 

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Penny Patton wrote:

 Earlier I pointed out that I in no way advocated any body type and asserted that it was possible to get the "tall look" with shorter avatars. If the avatars in this lineup look like "short, dumpy midgets" to you then...well, that would actually be kinda frightening.

Your own Avs boobs and hips make her look 'shorter and dumpier' than she actually is. I had to see a couple of images of you in different posts here and there before I realized that was not actually the case for your shape. ;)

But the others in the lineup - the first 2 look tall, the fourth average, and the 5th short (because of all things, the length of the amount below the knees suggesting to me a pre-2000s era South Korean (ie: someone who grew up before Korea underwent the food/nutrition revolution). :)

 

 

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Pussycat Catnap wrote:

 As to the notion of SL scale being 125% of RL - the arm slider doesn't agree... in fact the arm slider is so troubled that I'm not sure even normal scale avatars can have proper arms if they're up to 6' or more. Not sure there...

 I think the tallest female avatar I've done with proportion checking was either 6' or 6'2" and I managed correct arm legnth.

Also, it's important to note that the arm slider issue is only a problem with women avatars. Men with realistically sized avatars can achieve proper arm length at like 60 on the slider. Women of realistic sizes need to be around 90-100. So in scaling up, men have a lot more freedom. At least in that regard.


Nika Talaj wrote:

It's good information, and I see the point about prim and land usage. The camera setting info is also great.

But I  wish this whole crusade had never started.  Before folks started obsessing about avatar height the world was fairly consistent, if overblown.  Now I have a short shape for when I am in the presence of forum & SLU members, and a taller shape for when I am in more public settings.  The large shape is particularly useful in some of SL's older, classic builds. 

I think there was somewhat more consistency in height, as few people went below 6'4", but avatars were still spread out between about 6'6" to 8'10", with that conspicuous rift between men and women that we still see today (and which is the bane of all couples poses). The issues with scale when it came to environments and in-world objects were also always present.

But I know what you mean, there wasn't the gaping disparity between the "shorty" avatars and the "giants" that is becoming more and more apparent all the time.

I'm just not willing to sacrifice the benefits of better scale, most of all the money it saves me.

Because of that, the best solution I see is LL finally realizing the benefits for themselves and hiring a creative team that can put them on track with SL's visual aspects, marketing and general presentation. That would make the transition much smoother for everyone.


Nika Talaj wrote:

It seems to me that shorter shapes show more distortion when in movement, particularly twisting movements, due to the blockiness in portions of SL's avatar mesh.  I wouldn't be surprised if this is why LL ended up skewing avatars tall.

I'm not sure I agree with this, I've had a shorter shape now for most of my time in SL, I've created many more, and I've not seen this. At least not since I started going over avatar proportions with a fine toothed comb. 

I find that most of the concerns people have with shorter avatar shapes have to do with the methods they used to scale down. There is no easy way to scale a shape down, pretty much all proportions need to be adjusted individually which makes for a very time consuming process. Combined with the general lack of good proportions in most avatars, this leads to a lot of problems.

I think it would help a lot if LL provided a series of "template" shapes, properly scaled and proportioned, that people could select from either the library or the appearance editor itself when creating a new shape. As it is, even the default "new shapes" are poorly proportioned and well over 6' tall.

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I don't know why, but reading this made me think of Genesis' old song "Get 'Em Out By Friday"...

This is an announcement from Genetic Control
"It is my sad duty to inform you of a four foot restriction on humanoid height"... 

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Heh.

Actually I'd just come back to post another addendum.

 

Why not scale avatars down even further? Why not scale our avatars down to 1m tall, or 50cm tall?

There are several reasons, and they should be obvious with just a little thought. First, we can only scale down avatars so far before it becomes impossible to maintain correct adult proportions. You can get down to about 5' tall and then you need to start making concessions that will quickly leave you with childlike, dwarven shapes. Further still and the mesh just winds up a mess of pinched vertices and clipped polygons.

Second, prims have minimum size restrictions as well as maximum size restrictions. Scale down much further than I've suggested and you no longer get additional benefitis of prim efficiency, Further still and it becomes more and more difficult to get the desired detail out of prims because you can't make them small enough.

Finally, you begin to run into the same problem of everyone squeezing into one extreme of the spectrum. Just like when everyone is tall, nobody can be tall. When everybody is short, nobody can be short. You hit that wall where creativity and diversity becomes restricted.

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Penny Patton wrote:

1) They can fix the camera placement.
 All it takes to vastly improve the SL camera placement is changing a few numbers in the debug menu. Anyone can do this easily, but only a very small minority tend to change defaults so it would be ideal if LL changed the defaults themselves. 

This is great! The default camera position has been bugging me for a long time. It's just wrong, regardless of the size of avatars and/or objects. I had a look a while back to see if I could find the right settings to change, but only found the cameraOffset... settings. Changing those alone didn't do anything useful, so I forgot about it. Not, though, thanks you your instructions, I can get the camera to sit where I want it to. Thank you, Penny!

A lot is said about the scale of avatars changing and is slowly moving towards more RL sized avatars. I've seen a tendency towards this, and can agree, when it comes to female avatars. As far as male avatars are concerned, I haven't noticed the same shift. Males seem to be as tall (and wide, with even smaller heads :)) as they were when I joined SL. I'm wondering if others see the same thing, or if the scale is really changing for both genders?

- Luc -

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Luc Starsider wrote:

As far as male avatars are concerned, I haven't noticed the same shift. Males seem to be as tall (and wide, with even smaller heads
:)
) as they were when I joined SL. I'm wondering if others see the same thing, or if the scale is really changing for both genders?

- Luc -

I can't speak for straight men, but in the gay community, from my perspective anyway, there has been an increase in shorter scaled avs, though it's certainly not pervasive. Some of that may be contributed to the last really noticeable trend, at least the one noticeable most to me (I may be a bit out of the loop atm), of becoming little elves. I mean, it was crazy, there were little elf boys popping up all over the place... lol.

There are still the big leather daddy types that are gargantuan gorilla looking guys, most with pins for heads... that's gonna be a tough crowd to sell this concept to. Their concern for being "macho" and all that might correlate to straight guys... the ones that also feel the need to be "macho" anyway. In which case, they may be a hard sell as well.

...Dres

 ETA: I'm somewhere in between and comfortable being there atm but this thread has me rethinking my size.

 

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Thanks for setting it all down in one place. I choose to be as tall (and leggy) as I can possibly be in SL--guess it comes from watching _Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman_ and seeing pictures of Anna Swan when I was little--but that's my choice, and having everything out of scale kills the effect, as you show. Bumping my head on the doorway adds to the immersion. :) I expect I will head to 1920s Berlin at least once just so I can get the feel.

Thanks also for the camera setting pointer--I'm hoping that will make it possible for me to negotiate helical staircases on the first try.

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@Luc 

 I have noticed more scaled down male avatars lately (yesterday I went to the SL8B sims and ran into a 6' guy avatar), but you're quite right that men have always been exceissively taller than women and now they, in general, seem less willing to scale down. I suspect this has to do with perceived social pressures. An unwillingness to be the shortest man in the room.

I believe it would be less of an issue once LL started new users out with properly sized avatars and more content creators began building to a sensible scale. As shown earlier in the thread there's already multiple RP areas where everyone is encouraged or required to scale their avatar appropriately, and these areas have plenty of male avatars.

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Melissa Yeuxdoux wrote:

Thanks for setting it all down in one place. I choose to be as tall (and leggy) as I can possibly be in SL--guess it comes from watching _Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman_ and seeing pictures of Anna Swan when I was little--but that's my choice, and having everything out of scale kills the effect, as you show. Bumping my head on the doorway adds to the immersion.
:)
I expect I will head to 1920s Berlin at least once just so I can get the feel.

Thanks also for the camera setting pointer--I'm hoping that will make it possible for me to negotiate helical staircases on the first try.

Hee, you're welcome!

Some people make the mistake of thinking this is about maing all avatars a single size and they express concerns about losing diversity. Really,as your experience shows, when everyopne squeezes to one extreme end of the scale or the other you lose diversity. "When everybody is tall, nobody is tall."  I want to see more "giant" avatars, which is only possible when the average avatar is a more realistic size.

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Penny Patton wrote:

@Luc 

 I have noticed more scaled down male avatars lately (yesterday I went to the SL8B sims and ran into a 6' guy avatar),

Ah. A tiny :D

I guess men will continue to be taller than women, even if the scale goes down. I think  you're right about men being less willing - or less inclined - to go down in size. 


Penny Patton wrote:

I believe it would be less of an issue once LL started new users out with properly sized avatars and more content creators began building to a sensible scale. As shown earlier in the thread there's already multiple RP areas where everyone is encouraged or required to scale their avatar appropriately, and these areas have plenty of male avatars.

I think you're right. In my mind content creators builds will be most important in encouraging people - not just in RP communities - to use a more realistic scale for their avatars. Second will be the position of the camera, as you and others have mentioned before.

- Luc -

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In our sim giant men are an exception, most men here have a realistic size.

I guess it all depends on how much you hang out with realistic sized women ;)

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Dresden Ceriano wrote:

I can't speak for straight men, but in the gay community, from my perspective anyway, there has been an increase in shorter scaled avs, though it's certainly not pervasive. Some of that may be contributed to the last really noticeable trend, at least the one noticeable most to me (I may be a bit out of the loop atm), of becoming little elves. I mean, it was crazy, there were little elf boys popping up all over the place... lol.

There are still the big leather daddy types that are gargantuan gorilla looking guys, most with pins for heads... that's gonna be a tough crowd to sell this concept to. Their concern for being "macho" and all that might correlate to straight guys... the ones that also feel the need to be "macho" anyway. In which case, they may be a hard sell as well.

...Dres

 ETA: I'm somewhere in between and comfortable being there atm but this thread has me rethinking my size.

 

This makes you wonder if the change towards smaller avatars - in general, not just in the gay community - is something that is 'in' at the moment - a fashion thing, or if it is a more permanent, lasting change?

- Luc -

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Jo Yardley wrote:

I guess it all depends on how much you hang out with realistic sized women
;)

I'm not sure that matters - I have to admit I'm quite a bit taller than my lady :D

But, like Dres, I too am thinking about changing my size...

- Luc -

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