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PE count has just impacted my world in a big way, and I wonder if everyone in SL understands how this is going to mess up building. PE is prim equivalence... a new way of calculating prims that now counts sculpties with a heavier prim weight. The impact tonight happened when Amaretto updated their horses, and suddenly horses that were 14 prims became 19 prims. That increase doesn't sound like much, but for some people who had over 200 prims available on their land, they suddenly had 30. From what I read posted by Jeremy Linden, this is supposed to give regular prim builds and mesh builds equal weight. How does this affect sculpties? Well, most of them will have a higher prim count now. Does this really save so much strain on the servers, when mesh objects take up so many more resources? I guess we'll see. But the updates are starting, and all next week there will be regional updates that will ensure that these new weights are affecting us all. Do we get higher prim counts available on our land to compensate us? Nope. Thanks so much, Linden Labs. After four years of faithful membership (most of that being paid premium membership), I am giving serious thought to chucking it all. Way to go.

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"...... Do we get higher prim counts available on our land to compensate us? ....."

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No you won't get a higher prim alllowance for you land.  That would defeat the purpose of "equalizing" the prim load on the servers.  There are only so many resources any server has and mesh takes up more than the regular prim.  The choice is to have mesh count the same as any other prim and, in turn, use more server resources which will greatly effect sim performance............and we all hate lag with a passion.  Or to treat a regular prim at the same weight as a mesh.  Basically, it's much like paying for the addition resource requirement of the mesh by limiting the land to fewer regular prims.  Kind of like the current US tax system...........taking from one, and giving that to another.

 

It's the price of mesh........something that was very much demanded for years.  We got it now, so we have to pay for it some how.  "Leveling" the weight of regular prims to equal the weight of mesh is a way.........maybe not the best way, but it's the way LL has decided to do it.  6 months from now it'll be a non-issue.

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Not all objects will cost more in prims. Most objects will cost less. If something costs more, it is because of how it is made, not necessarily just because it is now mesh. I can't speak for Amerreto or whatever, but obviously, however they do what they do, it uses more resources, or has many parts. More parts means a higher count. When I say parts, I'm not talking prims here.

Mesh is, from my estimates, atleast 4 times more efficient than sculpties. This means that you will see less lag from the object, but not always less prims. If done right, mesh can even cut your lag by more than 200%. If you currently have or wear sculpties, you should look for mesh alternatives, especially for sculpted things you wear. Like I said, if created by some1 who knows what they are doing, most prims counts will be less, not more. Some will be extremely less too, like dozens of prims less or more. If the object has many moving parts, then it will probably cost a little more.

1 word of caution. If the mesh object on the marketplace does not show it's PE cost on the page, I would advise you not to buy it. whether it is wearable or not. Chances are, that the person does not understand how to make a mesh, even tho it might look good. By not posting the PE or giving a prim count, they are basically telling you the PE is high, hence why they are not posting it. If they had a really low PE, they would be extremely proud to post it. It has pretty much been a competition among mesh creators to see just how low they can go.

Basically tho, if something costs more it is because of the choices that the creator makes. Sure LL could and probably should lower some aspects, but this does not apply to all objects.

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Regular prims and sculpties only fall under the PE system when they are linked to a mesh, or one or more prims in a linkset have another physics shape type than the default type, which is type "Prim". Changing one prim in a linkset to physics shape type "Convex Hull", or "None" will make the entire linkset subject to the PE system.

As long as you don't change the physics shape type of a sculptie or prim, and as long as you don't link them to a mesh, a sculptie/prim will count still as 1 prim.

If LL would change that over night, half of the inworld content would be returned. So I suspect that the horse creator changed something on the object, and not LL.

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This may be just an academic discussion if, as Marton pointed out, the change in question hasn't actually happened.  But either way, I think there are some interesting points worth talking about.

 


Abigayle Bracken wrote:

From what I read posted by Jeremy Linden, this is supposed to give regular prim builds and mesh builds equal weight. How does this affect sculpties? Well, most of them will have a higher prim count now.

I know this isn't going to be a popular response among the "squeeze as much as you can out of every resource" types that make up certain populations in SL, but if LL were to make sculpties cost more than one prim, I for one would be in favor of it.  LL's done its share of dumb things over the years, but this wouldn't be one of them.  I'll explain.

Consider that every (regular) sculpty has 2048 polygons in it, while the average prim by usage has only about 188*.  This means that a sculpty on average is about 11 times more costly than a prim, when it comes to rendering overhead and processing.  Yet historically, each sculpty has only counted as one prim.  There's a tremendous imbalance there, to say the least.  But that's not necessarily a problem. What IS a problem is this:  while sculpties offer a huge "bang for the buck" in terms of the number polygons per prim that you get to use, their geometric structural constraints almost always result in the use of far more polygons per actual model shape than would otherwise be necessary.  This directly slows down rendering, often dramatically.

Sculpties have been one of the most over-abused resources in SL since the day they first hit the grid.  The infamous Luskwood Tree, for those old enough to remember, was an early demonstration of this.  For anyone who doesn't know, it was a gigantic plant, constructed from several hundred pillow-shaped sculpties, with a total poly count well into the millions.  It lagged the hell out of every single person within a 2-sim radius.

Abuses like that continue to this day.  People routinely pack builds to the brim with sculpties, with 512x512 or 1024x1024 textues on each one, and then they have the gall to complain that SL is laggy.  As we all know from visting certain island builds that somehow magically yield killer high frame rates, even though they're chock full of great looking content, the fact is SL works quite well when builders are mindful to do the right things.  But unfortunately, most users have no idea how to self-manage their resource usage.  So, if LL were to finally do something to help manage it from the outside, that would be fantastic!  We all should be applaud that kind of move (assuming they could find a way to keep existing content from being auto-returned unfairly, of course).

 

It's also worth keeping in mind, by the way, that sculpties were never intended to be anything other than a stop-gap measure while mesh support was still on the drawing board.  Qarl, being the genius that he was (and still is), realized that since SL was already set up to import textures, and already set up to render polygons, it wouldn't take much extra tinkering to get one to drive the other.  The invention of the sculpty was simply a clever way of getting SL to get SL to be able to do SOMETHING more than simple prims, without having to alter the fundamental capabilities of the system.  But even Qarl would be the first to admit that in the grander scheme of how 3D modeling and rendering are supposed to work, sculpties are a very clumsy and extremely inefficient way of getting the job done.  That's why they've never existed anywhere else but SL.

Everyone should understand that from a cost/benefit perspective, sculpties have never been winners in any category except prim count (and that's just because prim count was artificially imposed).  When you look at every resource that makes a real impact on how the management of any 3D simulation actually works (things like rendering time, load time, poly count, texture usage per model, etc.), sculpties have always been tremendous lag machines, and always will be.  That's just the nature of what they are, and there's no way around that.

Now that we can use arbitrary meshes, there's zero need to keep using sculpties at all.  Traditional mesh models are not only MUCH more efficient, they're far easier to make, and they have capabilities that sculpties could never touch (multple textures per object, custom UV layout, rigging, etc.).  What's more, they can lower the prim count of any given model much further than sculpties ever could, even if sculpties were to retain their old one-prim-per-sculpty PE counts.

 


Abigayle Bracken wrote:

Does this really save so much strain on the servers, when mesh objects take up so many more resources?

The servers have nothing to do with it.  The primary concern is rendering efficiency.  And as we just discussed, sculpties are supremely inefficient in that department.

If you ever want to get the kinds of framerates in SL that you get in regular video games, or even anything in the same ballpark, efficiency has to be encouraged.  The prim count, as a simplistic means of resource management, made some sense way back in SL's beginnings.  But it never made any sense to stick with that and only that for so many years.  People should have been encouraged to think about things that really make a direct difference to performance, like poly counts and texture memory, all along.

 


Abigayle Bracken wrote:

Do we get higher prim counts available on our land to compensate us?

You wouldn't need higher prim counts.  Just use more efficiently made models, and you've got nothing to worry about.  Those sculpty horses should be replaced with mesh versions.  They'll have lower PE counts than even the old sculpty ones, and they'll look a hundred times better.

 


Abigayle Bracken wrote:

After four years of faithful membership (most of that being paid premium membership), I am giving serious thought to chucking it all.

It never ceases to amuse me how every time a significant improvement comes to SL, a certain percentage of people threaten to quit over it.  Anyone remember how many prim builders threatened to quit when sculpties first arrived?  The forums were filled with complaint after complaint after complaint, from those who wanted to preserve the status quo. Oh, and remember when they made changes to the way permissions worked on textures, and there were so many posts from texture artists threatening to quit over it?  My personal favorite was when copybot first got out, and content creators of all types said they were gonna close up shop because of it.  Uh, let's see, you think you MIGHT potentially lose some money by getting ripped off, so instead you're gonna make certain that you make no money at all ever again, by not even trying.  I still have to actively contain my laughter when I think about that one.  Some people are geniuses.

I'd strongly encourage you to do yourself a favor. If sculpty prim counts were to go up, embrace the change.  See it for the net gain that it actually would be for everyone.  Anything that would cut down on abuse of real resources would be a good move.

 

 

 

 

*My figure of 188 polygons in an "average prim" was arrived at by adding up the total amount of polygons in a bunch of random builds around the grid, and dividing by the number of prims in each build.  The number is relatively low, because simpler prims tend to be used more often than complex ones.  For example, cubes, which have only 108 polys each, are used far more often in builds than toruses, which have 1152.  Cylinders, which have 192 polygons, tend to be used more often than tubes, which have 672.  Etc., etc., etc. 

Because whole prims tend to be used so much more often than cut and/or twisted ones, I did not consider the added polys from twists or the subtracted polys from cuts to be statistically significant.

Attachments, like prim hair, are a whole other animal.  I did not factor those in.  I'm just talking about builds here.

 

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Chosen Few wrote:

Now that we can use arbitrary meshes, there's zero need to keep using sculpties at all.  Traditional mesh models are not only MUCH more efficient, they're far easier to make, and they have capabilities that sculpties could never touch (multple textures per object, custom UV layout, rigging, etc.).  What's more, they can lower the prim count of any given model much further than sculpties ever could, even if sculpties were to retain their old one-prim-per-sculpty PE counts.

 

A fine explanation, Chosen, and for new products I would agree that IF it can be done more efficiently with mesh, then it should be. But what about existing sculpty content? Do you have a magical sculpt to mesh converter in your pocket, that everyone can use to convert the sculpty content that they bought into mesh content, regardless of permissions? For example, I have two sculptures on my property, that use 45 prims each, most of them sculpted. If this change makes the prim count of those two sculptures increase by too much, my parcel won't have enough prims free to support everything on the parcel. What then? I didn't create those sculptures, so I can't convert them to mesh. But if they cost any more prims to use than they do now, I can't afford to keep them.

(EDIT: Re-reading the above, I think that the Amaretto update was to blame for that increase in prim count, and not a server change from LL. But still, any change now to make Sculpties have higher PE values could radically disturb/destroy existing content.)

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Welcome back, Chosen, and thank you for the characteristically well thought out discussion of scultpies and PE.  Your reading of history is good.  Scuplties were a stopgap.  They have served us well, but they have severe limitations. The challenge now, though, is that we can't have a do-over on history.  We needed the stopgap, but we can't just turn around now and undo the past two years of sculpty history.  We have a world full of sculpties that people have spent creative time and a lot of L$ for.  Changing the rules on PE is clearly the right thing to do from the standpoint of efficiency, but a disastrous thing to do from a socio-economic perspective.

Not only is it impossible to remove all of SL's sculpties and replace them with lovely mesh objects, we also can't prevent people from continuing to make new ones.  Merchants have built businesses around items that they can assemble from pre-fab sculpties, and have invested huge amounts of cash in full-perm UV maps to make them.  The cost of retooling to create new mesh objects is one thing; the cost of losing sales on existing stock would be a business-killer.  Those sculpty items will continue to be in the market for a long time to come. The best you can say is that buyers will at least know the PE cost of any new sculpties, and be able to decide what fits in their PE budget. My guess, though, is that only the prim-savvy long-time residents of SL will care   --- and they will only care when there's a big PE difference between a sculpty and a mesh object.  

My read, therefore, is that sculpties may have started as a stopgap, but they will be with us forever. As you say, it makes sense to change the PE formula for sculpties now, because they will continue to be a weak link in the rendering efficiency scheme.  Changing it now, though, seems impossible.  Do you really see any way out?

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The horses will most likely not be less prims. Although, any good mesh creator can do numerous things to lower their counts. Anything that is constructed of many different parts that are all scripted will most likely cost the same or more than their sculpty counterparts. Despite LL lowering script penalties on mesh, they still do exist.

For converting sculpts to mesh, some will be quite easy. There are numerous programs that can convert a sculpty into an OBJ file. These are basically meshes but in another format. The OBJ file can then be imported into Blender or 3ds Max and saved as a DAE file. I would not suggest a direct conversion tho, as the finished product will likely have way more polygons, or verts than it will need, hence driving the PE up. MeshLab, which i think was made by Stanford, can easily reduce the polygons of any mesh, quite well I might add, but converting back into a suitable format can be tricky.

As far as I know, sculpties will never cost more than 1 prim, unless you link it to a mesh or change it's physics.

 

OH, and let me add. Any content creator that has a real investment in SL, and lots of loyal customers, will most likely convert their sculpties to mesh. I would also suggest they give free updates to mesh for their items. I personally will never buy another sculpty product. Because of sculpties being soooooo inefficient, in a year or 2, no1 will be making sculpties, and I'd be willing to bet that all users will replace their sculpties with mesh, whether from the original creator of the sculpty, or 1 of their competitors.

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Medhue Simoni wrote:

As far as I know, sculpties will never cost more than 1 prim, unless you link it to a mesh or change it's physics.

OH, and let me add. Any content creator that has a real investment in SL, and lots of loyal customers, will most likely convert their sculpties to mesh. I would also suggest they give free updates to mesh for their items. I personally will never buy another sculpty product. Because of sculpties being soooooo inefficient, in a year or 2, no1 will be making sculpties, and I'd be willing to bet that all users will replace their sculpties with mesh, whether from the original creator of the sculpty, or 1 of their competitors.

OK, so then let me continue the thought in my last post.  If you are right that sculpties will never cost more than one prim, where's the buyer's incentive to purchase an equivalent mesh object that has a higher PE? ( I don't mean the flashy objects that can only be made in mesh. I mean objects that could be made just as easily as either mesh or sculpties. ) If a buyer has a choice of taking home either a lovely mesh object that has a PE of 10 or a sculpty object that looks the same and has a PE of 1, why not choose the lower-PE one?  Unless there's a good reason for lots of people to choose the mesh object, why should content creators follow your example and convert their sculpty items to mesh?

For me, this is not a theoretical question.  I create fairly simple sculpty components (ribbons, pillars, cushions, ...) as sculpties now and I would seriously consider making them as mesh instead, except that if I do, their PE will probably be higher.  People on a tight prim budget will be less likely to buy them than if I stick with sculpties.  So .... unless LL does apply a PE penalty to sculpties, why should I switch?

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Thanks for the warm welcome back.  Rolig, Ceera, I'm glad to know you're both still here and active.  Medhue, I'm not sure if we've met before, so it's nice to make your aquaintance. :) 

That pesky thing called RL kept me mostly away from SL for the past few months.  Feels good to be back.

 

Rolig, you're certainly right that we can't erase the history, no do-overs.  And yes, sculpties will always be with us.  Everyone has raised good points about how any retroactive change to sculpty PE would mess up existing builds, and could piotentially damage some existing business practices.  Were a change actually to happen, there's an easy way to prevent that.  Just grandfather pre-existing sculpties into the one-prim scheme, and apply new PE numbering only to newer ones.

Historically, megaprims (loosely) serve as precedent for this type of model, at least in principle.  During the time when megaprims could be created, a 100x100x100 cube was a one-prim object.  When creation of them was then disallowed, any newly created cube of that size had to be at least a 542 prim object (under the old 10M prim size limits).  But pre-existing one-prim cubes of that size were allowed to remain. 

Granted, the megaprim situation was quite a bit different from the sculpty situation in several key ways.  However, the principle still fits.  I see no reason not to apply this logic to sculpties.  Old ones stay one prim, while new ones get more realistic PE.  I'd say that would yield the best of both worlds for all concerned.

That's really the way all changes should be made whenever possible, anyway.  Preserve the pre-existing; apply the new rules to new items.

 

As for the question of converting existing sculpties to mesh models, I'd have to give the same answer I always gave whenever people used to ask how to 'convert' existing mesh models to sculpties.  Don't bother trying.  It's better to build a brand new model, for a multitude of reasons.

Will this be inconvenient?  Sure.  But progress of any sort is rarely convenient during the transitional stage.   Often we have to take a step back in order to make a leap forward.  Not everyone is going to have the stomach for that, of course, but it is what it is.

We didn't decide not put the telephone to use, just because it was going to take a lot of work to place the lines.  We didn't reject the invention of the locomotive, just because the tracks weren't laid yet.  We didn't dismiss the light bulb, just because most houses didn't yet have electricity.  All of these things took a lot of peripheral work to get going.  But once they did, the world never looked back.

It's likewise going to take a lot of work to wheen SL off the sculpty, and onto the mesh.  But if you recall, we had a very similar discussion about prims vs. sculpties when sculpties first hit the grid.  Every time a better way to do things comes along, there's going to be a natural period of uncomfortable transition.  But after that, the world does move on, and the "newfangled" becomes the commonplace.

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Rolig Loon wrote:

OK, so then let me continue the thought in my last post.  If you are right that sculpties will never cost more than one prim, where's the buyer's incentive to purchase an equivalent mesh object that has a higher PE? ( I don't mean the flashy objects that can
only
be made in mesh. I mean objects that could be made just as easily as either mesh or sculpties. ) If a buyer has a choice of taking home either a lovely mesh object that has a PE of 10 or a sculpty object that looks the same and has a PE of 1, why not choose the lower-PE one?  Unless there's a good reason for lots of people to choose the mesh object, why should content creators follow your example and convert their sculpty items to mesh?

For me, this is not a theoretical question.  I create fairly simple sculpty components (ribbons, pillars, cushions, ...) as sculpties now and I would seriously consider making them as mesh instead, except that if I do, their PE will probably be higher.  People on a tight prim budget will be less likely to buy them than if I stick with sculpties.  So .... unless LL does apply a PE penalty to sculpties, why should I switch?

Here's the thing.  Very rarely does a given object need all 2048 polygons that a sculpty has to have.  Something like a ribbon, even complicated one, could be made from just a very tiny fraction of that.  Unless they've changed the rules since the last time I checked, such low-poly objects can have a PE of less than one. The mesh model could very well would beat the sculpty model handily in PE, as well as in performance.

Worst case scenario, of the lower limit is 1, then at the very least, the mesh would have the same PE as the sculpty, and the consumer simply wouldn't know the difference.

Either way, there would be little if any reason not to make the switch.

 

The only time using a sculpty would remain advantageous whould be in the exceedingly rare circumstance in which you absolutely need all 2048 polygons, and you've got good reason to only want to invest one prim into it.

 

 

I'll agree that simply CONVERTING sculpties to mesh models would be silly, if all you're doing is a 1:1 conversion.  But if you're replacing the sculpty with a far more efficient mesh, it's almost always going to be a win.

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Chosen Few wrote:

Were a change actually to happen, there's an easy way to prevent that.  Just grandfather pre-existing sculpties into the one-prim scheme, and apply new PE numbering only to newer ones.


Yes, I considered that possibility myself, Chosen, but I couldn't figure out what quailfies as a "new" sculpty.  If I rez a sculpty from inventory, or shift-drag it, is it new?  Or if I create a new prim , declare it to be a sculpty and apply an "old" sculpty UV map? Or only if I use a newly-uploaded UV map?  This feels like the -- heaven forbid -- arguments about when life begins.  What's a "new" sculpty? 

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Welcome back Chosen! Oh, I've seen your name around, but I don't think we've met. I'm always somewhere around my sim, so stop by if you want to talk shop.

I will agree that there is no reason at all that a mesh should cost more than a sculpty, except for extremely large items and maybe some other rare instances. If a mesh is created with all factors taken into consideration, that ribbon would mostly likely be around .5 prims or less. Alone, it will read as 1 prim, but linked to another .5 mesh, and now you have 2 mesh equaling 1 prim.

For my combat system, I created ammo packs that rezz in areas. The previous ammo packs were 6 prims, and only used rectangular boxes. The new mesh ammo packs are 1 prim, and are comprised of 2 AK like magazines, 1 pistol cartridge, 2 shotgun slugs, and 3 bullets. So, in your case, I would assume you could make all the accessories that go with that ribbon, attach to the ribbon, and it all be 1 prim.

As far as old versus new. There is no such thing at this time. Sculpties will always be 1 prim. Please, if any1 knows anything different, correct me. Essentially tho, it doesn't matter as it is not beneficial to really keep making sculpts.

I should correct myself, the ammo pack is now 2 prims, as I had to link a normal invisible prim to it, but if not for the normal prim, it would be 1 prim.

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I just want to make 1 point that I think is getting missed here.

Lag. The major benefit of mesh is less lag. I'm sure there are cases where people don't care if any1 else sees the items they purchase, or what is on their land, but the vast majority of people are creating places for other people to enjoy. Many times, the land owner expects dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of people to enjoy their land every week. Mesh will massively benefit high volume areas, especially if the avatars are also wearing mesh, instead of sculpts.

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Absolutely.  There's no question about that, Medhue.  You and I both know, however, that a distressingly high number of landowners don't understand these things at all.  Recall, for example, how poorly many landowners understand the effect that scripts have (or don't have) on sim perfomance.  I am not confident that many landowners can get past two ground-level concerns:

(1) I have to stay within a prim allocation and

(2) I want to keep costs down.

They do fret about lag all the time, but that's harder to understand.  So,....  I build a house that has four large pillars, each with a nice base and capital.  I make it as a sculpty and its PE is 1.0, no matter how big I make it.  If I understand the rules right -- I don't, so please correct me if I'm wrong -- the bigger a mesh pillar is, the higher its PE.  A potential customer looks at my house with sculpty pillars and compares it to your identical one with mesh pillars and says (1) "Geez, his is gonna eat more of my prims." and (2) "You only had to pay L$10 to upload your sculpty map, so you can sell your build to me for less than he can afford to." 

Please understand .... I'm not trying to pick an argument by asking these things.  I am really trying to sort out matters in my own mind as a small-time content creator.  Setting aside temporary issues like the fact that a lot of residents can't even see mesh items yet, I'm searching for a good reason to stop making sculpty components.  Despite the real lag advantages of mesh, I see economic reasons to stay with sculpties .... at least for the near future.

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Well, these are your decisions to make. Most of my posts are half facts and half opinions and observances. I don't find your posts argumentive.

Will a pillar cost more? It probably will, just because of the size. What I would encourage you to do tho, is actually start working with mesh. Talking about what is and is not possible, or how this or that will happen, is all theoretical. I'm going to do things different than you or any1 else. Once you actually start playing with mesh tho, I very much doubt you will ever make another sculpty.

I agree that the vast majority of landowner don't have the slightest clue about what causes lag, or they are completely misinformed. This is exactly why I advocate more educational videos for landowner, produced by LL. Well, not just videos, but more educational stuff related to lag in any form.

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Rolig Loon wrote:

Yes, I considered that possibility myself, Chosen, but I couldn't figure out what quailfies as a "new" sculpty.  If I rez a sculpty from inventory, or shift-drag it, is it new?  Or if I create a new prim , declare it to be a sculpty and apply an "old" sculpty UV map? Or only if I use a newly-uploaded UV map?  This feels like the -- heaven forbid -- arguments about when life begins.  What's a "new" sculpty? 

I'd base it on the date the sculpt map was uploaded.

 


Rolig Loon wrote:

Absolutely.  There's no question about that, Medhue.  You and I both know, however, that a distressingly high number of landowners don't understand these things at all.  Recall, for example, how poorly many landowners understand the effect that scripts have (or don't have) on sim perfomance.  I am not confident that many landowners can get past two ground-level concerns:

(1) I have to stay within a prim allocation and

(2) I want to keep costs down.

They do fret about lag all the time, but that's harder to understand.  So,....  I build a house that has four large pillars, each with a nice base and capital.  I make it as a sculpty and its PE is 1.0, no matter how big I make it.  If I understand the rules right -- I don't, so please correct me if I'm wrong -- the bigger a mesh pillar is, the higher its PE.  A potential customer looks at my house with sculpty pillars and compares it to your identical one with mesh pillars and says (1) "Geez, his is gonna eat more of my prims." and (2) "You only had to pay L$10 to upload your sculpty map, so you can sell your build to me for less than he can afford to." 

Please understand .... I'm not trying to pick an argument by asking these things.  I am really trying to sort out matters in my own mind as a small-time content creator.  Setting aside temporary issues like the fact that a lot of residents can't even see mesh items yet, I'm searching for a good reason to stop making sculpty components.  Despite the real lag advantages of mesh, I see economic reasons to stay with sculpties .... at least for the near future.

There will always be some items that lend themselves better to sculpties' characteristics than others.  A simple column that needs to be able to be infinitely resized without affecting its PE may indeed fit that particular bill. Objects that will be more statically sized will usually have better PE as meshes, when you compare the amount of detail you can include for any given PE number.

For the heck of it, I just uploaded a fluted Greek column I made. If it were made of sculpties, I'd likely need six or seven of them to include all the same details that are in the mesh.  When I size the column 8 meters tall, its PE is 7.  So, as long as I don't need the column to be taller than that, it matches or beats the sculpties' PE.

If I stretch the mesh to 64 meters tall, the PE jumps to 42.  If it needs to be that big, sculpties are probably the better choice.

Is there a fixed point at which prim count becomes more important than poly count?  I'd have to say no, there cannot be any one univerally applicable rule for things like this.  The tradeoff point will vary, depending on the goals of each build.  All we can do is try to apply good judgment, on a case by case basis.

If you're concerned that people might or might not buy the mesh version of a model for various reasons, or that they might not buy the sculpty version for various other reasons, I'd suggest offering both.  It's more work, but it's also likely to translate to more sales, so it's probably worth the extra effort.

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Thanks, Chosen.  Those are the sorts of things I'm trying to decide, and I do appreciate your wise words.  I'm not a big-time builder -- I spend more of my time scripting these days -- so I don't have to rush into retooling for mesh, just as I didn't rush into sculpties at first.  Until a higher proportion of residents have a mesh-enabled viewer (and until LL can manage to make theirs reliable) the market won't be beating my door down with demands for mesh stuff anyway.  Still, I see the future on the near horizon so I want to get my head around these important issues.

Thanks again.  And, again, welcome back.

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"If I stretch the mesh to 64 meters tall, the PE jumps to 42.  If it needs to be that big, sculpties are probably the better choice."

Yes. It is particularly disappointing that these large objects, where all 2048 triangles will always have to be rendered because they are too big for LOD switches, are those for which the disincentive of high PE(LI) is greatest against the more efficient mesh replacements. This is aa effect of the exact details of the way chosen to define/calculate PE (see message 22 in an old thread). Trees provide an even more sad case. 

However, all may not be lost. Last time I asked about CTS-631 at the CC/MI UG meeting, we were told this or a similar mechanism was under active consideration. This would allow the creator and/or user to specify reduced LOD switch distances, more suited to the object size than the default distances proiportional to size. The PE would be reduced accordingly so that it retained the usual relationship to actual resource use.

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Great idea, Drongle! Voted.

Of course, we can't assume that the average user is going to have any idea of what distance values are best for any given mesh.  But even if they get it all wrong, it can't make anything worse than it is now.  It can only help.

For those people who would be able to make good sense of it, it would really be a great tool.

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Sculpt IS a stopgap when applied in cases where mesh would me MORE efficient.

Sculpt IS NOT a stopgap when applied in cases where mesh would be LESS efficient.

Of course with tomorrow's rolling restart, we can reasonably expect some other unannounced changes to other parts of the system.

I imagine it's too soon to add a totally unnecessary PE cost to sculpts, but that might not stop them.

I figure it's sort of inevitable at this point because not enough people are yet buying into the belief that mesh is a panacaea for builders.

For mesh to be the perfect solution LL wants you to believe it is, sculpts will somehow have to become a really, really big problem.

If they suddenly cost a lot more for no reason, that might do it.

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Josh Susanto wrote:

Sculpt IS a stopgap when applied in cases where mesh would me MORE efficient.

Sculpt IS NOT a stopgap when applied in cases where mesh would be LESS efficient.


There's no disputing that simple and straight-forward logic, of course.  However, how are we defining the word "efficient", exactly?  For the answer to that question is what directly determines whether this kind of logic is even applicable in the first place.

If we're talking only about prim count, then you've got a point. Some sculpty models will always be more "efficient" than arbitrary mesh models, in that regard, as we've discussed.

But if we're talking about the bazillion other things that fundamentally matter to any 3D simulation, such as poly count, texture usage, rendering speed, memory consumption, etc., then an arbitrary mesh can always be far more efficiently constructed than any fixed, completely unchangeable structure like a sculpty.  By its very definition, a sculpty has to be contorted and bastardized to take on the appearance of any desired shape, without regard to polygon distribution or count.  By contrast, an arbitrary mesh can, and almost always is, constructed directly to BE the desired shape, with as few polygons as possible, and with optimum distribution.  There's a world of difference there.  Sculpties, are almost always wasteful, whereas arbitrary meshes never have to be.

Even at the most basic level, the disparity can be huge.  If I want to make triangular plane, I only need one polygon if I can make my own mesh, but if it's a sculpty, I have to have 2048.  If I want to make a rectangle, then I just need two triangles if it's an arbitrary mesh, but again I have to have 2048 if it's a sculpty.  If I want to make something spherical, I could do it with as few as 72 triangles, but a sculpty spheroid is, once again, locked in at 2048 .  If I want to make something cubical, I could do it with 12 triangles, but if it's a sculpty cuboid, there's just no escaping the ever present 2048. Etc., etc., etc.  For these most basic of shapes, we're talking about difference factors of 100x or 1000x or even over 2000x.  There's simply no way to imagine a simple case in which a sculpty would be more efficient than an arbitrary mesh in terms of poly count.

OK, so how about a more complex case?  Consider the Greek column I discussed with Rolig.  As I mentioned, that particular model would require about 7 sculpties to produce the requisite details, which means an almost laughably huge 14,336 triangles ...for a coulmn!  The arbitrary mesh model was more than 10 times as efficient, at just around 1400 tris. 

And that's just for one.  Say I'm building the Parthenon, which has 69 pillars.   The sculpty version would boast almost a million polys!  That's insane.  The mesh version would be piddly by comparison, at just under 10,000.  Heck, I could model every single statue, every crack and crevace, and probably still not need a million polys for the entire thing.  If I tried to do that all out of sculpties, I shudder to think what the final poly count would be.

I think you can see where I'm going with this.  The fact is, in every category except prim count, there's simply no way sculpties could ever be more efficient than arbitrary meshes.  No amount of wishing it were so will ever change that.

So, it's really a question of what we consider most important with each build.  If prim count is the primary concern, then yes, there are situations in which the otherwise wasteful sculpties will win out, as we've discussed.  But if every singe underlying principle of how 3D graphics works is what we consider important, then sculpties can never win.  It's quite unfortunate that SL has been set up for so long to put prim count at odds with everything else.  Some people are so programmed to "think in prims" that they just aren't willing to accept that that's just not what makes it tick, under the hood.

Perhaps it would help to expound a little on the history I briefly touched on earlier.  Back in the day, the prims per land metaphor was devised as a way to neatly divvy up server resources.  As I mentioned before, that analogy did make very good sense at the time.  Geometric rendering costs didn't really need to be considered, since there was an inherent fixed cap on that, as long prims were the only medium we had to work with.  A region could only contain 10,000 prims (the current level of 15,000 came later), which meant there could only ever be a few hundred thousand polygons at a time in any one region.  So, the metaphor worked for front end management, as well as back end allocation of resources.  All was harmonious.

But the harmony was only by coincidence.  It was an illusion, which wasn't at all scalable, not future-proof, not in any way.  As soon as you introduce variable poly counts per single object, it all goes out the window.  Reality takes hold, and the illusion is shattered.

 


Josh Susanto wrote:

 

I imagine it's too soon to add a totally unnecessary PE cost to sculpts, but that might not stop them.


I really don't think they'll ever change the PE cost of sculpties.  This discussion is entirely hypothetical.  I believe they SHOULD, but I don't think they WILL.

 


Josh Susanto wrote:

 

I figure it's sort of inevitable at this point because not enough people are yet buying into the belief that mesh is a panacaea for builders.


Nah, it's not a question of "belief".  There are only two things holding people back from fully embracing mesh at this point.  One is the fact that not all viewers are equipped for it yet.  The other is just simple inertia.  It takes time for people to adapt to change.  Both of these factors are highly temporary.

If you think about this from outside the perspective of a singularly invested SL user, it's almost comical.  People are actually complaining that SL can finally do the same things every other 3D platform can do.  All that's really happened is that a major barrier to the rest of the world has been removed, but somehow, some people choose to see this as something new, like LL invented mesh modeling out of thin air or something.

Mesh modeling has aways been THE way realtime 3D graphics is done, everywhere outside of SL.  But because SL's original architecture lent itself more easily to the use of parametric solids, this completely bizarre prim system became the standard of measure for all things inside Second Life. Those whose 3D content creation experience began with SL tend to have no idea that SL is the only place where their particular mindset, and their acquired prim modeling skills, are directly applicable.  The standard everywhere else is mesh.

If SL had started with mesh, and was now introducing prims and sculpties, we'd be having this exact same discussion about the change.  Lots of existing users would be "set in their ways" about using mesh, and would be questioning whether prims were really worthwhile.  Preconception is a powerful thing.

It's well worth noting that nearly every pre-existing 3D artist who ever joined SL, including myself, was at first mystified by what a clumsy and under-capable system SL was utilizing for content creation.  We learned to make the best of it, of course, and some of us even came to very much enjoy the constant puzzle-solving challenge of figuring out how to do more with less.

But for many on the outside (and even some on the inside), SL remained the laughing stock of the 3D modeling world.  "Why would I ever want to go in there and play with Legos, when I can stay out here and use clay?" people would ask.  (It's kind of amazing how many people independently came up with that exact same analogy.  I had that discussion with people more times than I could count.)  My response would always be, "Well, yes, you can build much better models in Mays or 3DS Max or Blender than you can in SL.  But then what?  Look, if all you want to do is build the best looking race car you possibly can, keep right on doing what you're doing.  But if you want to be able to get in that race car, and drive it around town,  and show it off to your friends, that's why you should do it in SL.  It might not look as good, but it will be able to do some pretty cool stuff.  SL isn't just about modeling.  It's about interaction and social connection, and you can't have that if you're just out there on your own." 

Some got it, some didn't.  But all agreed, SL's content, even the very best of it, wasn't much to write home about, visually speaking.  As SL users, we tend to get so used to it, we forget that most of what we see on the grid really looks quite terrible.  We silently accept, "that's just what SL looks like", and then when we encounter something that looks mediocre, we go "Oh, that's awesome!" since it looks so much better than the norm.  But mediocre is still all it ever was.  When compared with how things look on other platforms, SL's content has always left a lot to be desired, to say the least.

That's not a slight against any SL artist, by the way.  There are plenty of highly talented people in SL, who have produced some truly remarkable works, pushing SL's limitations beyond what anyone could have expected in the beginning.  But that caveat of "SL's limitations" has always been there, nonetheless.  We were never exactly about to see the next Crysis or Mass Effect or God of War happen in SL.

But now, the game is finally changing.  For the first time, SL has been brought into alignment with how everything else works.  And that's huge. It's still got a ways to go, in terms of lighting, shaders, etc., but at least we've got the geometry to work with now.

As for the belief factor, whatever the current crop of builders do or don't choose to believe really doesn't matter, in the grand scheme.  Whether any individual likes it or not, the SL world has changed (for the better), and its content will inevitably rise with that tide.  The only question is who specifically will remain onboard as the seas get higher.  Those who choose to remain stationary will drown.  Those who decide they're going to start creating content the same way every other 3D artist in the world has already been doing for the past 20 years or so, will do great.

 

 


Josh Susanto wrote:

 

For mesh to be the perfect solution LL wants you to believe it is, sculpts will somehow have to become a really, really big problem.

It's not about what LL or anyone else wants anyone to believe.  It is plain and simple fact that any reasonably well constructed mesh model will render far more easily and efficiently on your screen than will any comparable sculpty model.  You should be excited by that.

Sculpties are already a really, really big problem for everything except prim count.  They render horribly, they don't take textures well, their physics are absurd, they take way longer to make than they should, they're wasteful in every way that matters.  Brilliant as they were for the purpose for which they were invented, they'll always be problematic.

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