I think we can.
Most people in SL have heard about MESH, even if they can’t use it or can’t see it properly. For many there are challenges holding them back from using it, like the browser they are running, or the power of their machine to pull off the graphics. But by far the biggest hold back for mesh is its inability to allow avatars to retain their uniqueness (excellent blog entry by Rowan Derryth with pictures explaining these affects found here http://rowanderryth.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/do-you-mesh/). In a community where so many develop custom personal identities they take pride in that is a monumental challenge to overcome. But there are ways to address this challenge.
The jira published by Maxwell Graf (https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SH-2374) sets for what seems to be one of the most reasonable solutions to this challenge. Max’s jira “Request [a] Rigged Mesh Parametric Deformer“, sums up the primary concern of most SL residents regarding MESH, the concern that “currently rigged mesh items do not allow for viable customization, limiting both usability and marketability for what is clearly the largest economic market in SL. If a pair of pants or a jacket (made of mesh) are worn, they do not conform to any avatar shape, changing even from the shape defined by using the default mesh avatar object to create them.”
What does that mean to the residents of second life? Well first, it means that any mesh object that doesn’t fit your shape perfectly without adjustment will require something called an alpha layer to allow you to wear it with out body parts sticking through, thus it will in effect change your own personal shape from the one that you have grown to know and possibly love to one that matches the one the creator of the item chose to make it for. Second major affect is that wearing that alpha layer can cause there to be noticeable gaps between mesh objects and another clothing layer and / or skin and / or another mesh object, in some cases it even makes it looks like there are gaps or caverns in the avatar wearing them. There are more underlying implications of not being able to rig the mesh to the individual avatar which are discussed in the comments of the jira and in this article by Saffia Widdershins, Maxwell Graf, and Aisling Sinclair, http://primperfectblog.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/mesh-a-cry-for-help-answered.
A reasonable proposal was set forth in the jira, which has been supported and publicized by many of SL’s most recognizable and respected creators and bloggers as well as a slew of the general population of residents who see the huge obstacle this issue poses if it is not addressed. And yet despite all this support, it has been downgraded in priority.
The response from the lindens by way of Charlar Linden comment added on 04/Oct/11 12:04 PM seems to indicate that despite all their pretty words and assurances that fixing the biggest issue affecting mesh and its success is not going to be dealt with as a high priority. The excuse, I mean explanation, provided is that “because [Linden Labs has] wrapped the Mesh release 2 project, we’re moving items into other backlogs. We don’t have any subsequent dedicated mesh project planned so all remaining items, including this one, will end up on our general viewer or the server backlogs.” This is then followed up with promises of “someday/maybe” … “but can’t commit to a timeframe yet.” and they are looking into it and evaluating it. Supposedly they are going to have some sort of response sometime around October 18th, but that remains to be seen.
Given this rather disappointing response and attitude from Linden Labs, residents led by key community figures like Maxwell Graf and others have started a fund and enlisted the services of veteran SL team member Qarl Linden, now known as Karl Stiefvater since the lindens removed him from their staff despite his numerous wins for LL and the SL community as a whole. Residents are hiring Qarl for the very reasonable price of $5,400 USD to develop the parametric deformer from SH-2374. They have set up a fund you can donate to, found on this website: http://www.indiegogo.com/Mesh-Clothing-Parametric-Deformer-Project. The funds are being collected through a company (indiegogo.com) which is reputable and well known for charity collections.. There is no in world donation option. The organizers of this project would love for you to donate, but if for any reason you feel uncomfortable donating via this option, they ask that help in any way that you can and continue to show the lindens how important this issue is to us as residents. Here are some things you can do to show your support:
- Cast your vote and watch the Jira today
- Donate to the project
- Spread the word to others.
- Encourage them to vote, donate, and spread the word as well.
The importance of this to residents, particularly creators, is demonstrated by the general stance that so many have adopted, not to create or buy mesh content until the Rigged Mesh Parametric Deformer is available. It is further proven by the sort of numbers that are coming in from donations. The over all budget is $5,400 USD (vary reasonable in my book for custom coding of this level of complexity especially when you consider the millions that LL budgets for creation of new features and viewers). Three days ago, when I was first referred to the site, there were 60 days left to donate and collections had reached $2,330, leaving just $3,070 to go. And now as I write and check the site to see how the cause is progressing, the totals are $2855 with just 57 days left to donate, leaving just $2,545 to go. At this pace organizers should reach their goal comfortably, but don’t wait to donate, if you are considering donating, because the sooner goal is reached the sooner Qarl starts to work on the project and the sooner we all get mesh that conforms to each and everyone of our figures. ;D