Remember that vividly realized alien playing Paganini I mentioned last week? Turns out there's much more backstory to that demo: The alien was actually created with a polygon mesh file made by a Resident developer who is part of Linden Lab's private Beta mesh program, working under a company non-disclosure agreement. However, last weekend there was a Linden announcement that the NDA had been lifted (at least temporarily), and now those private Beta developers are giving details:
- Import format will be Collada
- Collada allows rigging which means: Wearable clothing, entire avatar replacements that bend with animations
- Five submeshes for each object
- Four different Levels Of Detail
- One for collisions for Havok
Much more here. The biggest news is that the specific mesh file format is COLLADA, an industry standard that's compatible with Maya, 3D Studio Max, SketchUp, and Blender (among other major 3D creation platforms.) This will make Second Life content much more compatible with other 3D online worlds, games, and graphics (which may greatly encourage designers to try developing in SL.) COLLADA also means SL developers will have a means of legitimately backing up their content outside of Second Life, without running afoul of CopyBot controversies. For Second Life content consumers, this means more realism and detail to the content they enjoy -- including clothes, which will be easier to wear, and better fitting. As a source told me, COLLADA meshes will probably change Second Life content more than sculpties did.
When will SL developers get meshes to work with in Second Life proper? Last month, Linden Lab's former Chief Product Officer promised them this quarter. Would that were the case; they could not come soon enough.
Update, 12:30pm: I asked Linden Lab to confirm the COLLADA mesh details revealed by beta developers. And Linden PR rep Peter Gray replied: "We do not have any announcement or further info about mesh to share (or confirm) at this time."