Monday, January 02, 2012

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Ex-Linden Karl Stiefvater Explains How His Crowdfunded Code Improves SL Mesh - Get the Alpha, Give Him Feedback!

As promised, ex-Linden programmer Karl "Qarl Fizz" Stiefvater has created the first version of his crowdfunded code that greatly improves Second Life mesh. What's that mean in practical terms? Many things, as Karl explains in this video, with the big improvements showing up around 2:20, when he compares how the current viewer displays mesh, and how his does:

As you can see, clothing which uses Karl's version of mesh adjusts to an avatar's shape, instead of how it is now, with the avatar having to adjust to the mesh shape. The code is now in early Alpha, Karl tells me, but the main work is basically done.

"Code-wise, it's 80% done," he tells me. "Maybe I work on efficiency some more - maybe I make the deformations smoother." But that's where you come in, early adopting SL user, because he needs your feedback:

SL Mesh Deformer Qarl Linden

You can get Qarl's code here, and the Exodus third-party viewer has also integrated his code, which you can check out here.

"But now we enter the part I call 'negotiation', where there are a million different opinions on the remaining details," he adds. "Hard to say how long that will take. I'm going to let the community churn on it for a bit."

Go here to add your feedback to Qarl's code on the Linden's JIRA.

Hat tip: Many many SL bloggers and Plurkers!

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okiedokiecow

Niran's viewer had this in a released viewer before anyone. They were first.

Canoro Philipp

its crowdfunded? Linden Lab is not paying him for working on the ideas of their JIRA?

elizabeth (16)

\o/

Nanu

tried the exodus viewer ... but even after activating the qarl option ... mesh doesn't react to it (even mesh on mod) :((((((((

Dartagan Shepherd

Sorry, can't get past the fact that no company with self respect would even allow their customers to pay into "crowd sourcing" in order to improve their product.

I know that if I were to share this with any local business in my area, that they'd be shaking their head or smirking, and why.

Nothing against Karl, from what I've heard from some of his talks and his prior work, he seems like a good guy.

If he's competent enough for LL to accept his code, then perhaps he's good enough to hire back. I don't know the circumstances around his dismissal in the first place. Perhaps just another head in the mass cuts they made a ways back when 1/3 of the employees were let go.

At the very least, to save face LL should be picking up the tab and apologizing.

It's a joke, the lady that owns the dry-cleaners will tell you, the guy that owns the local garage will tell you that, and so on.

You just can't sell that kind of nonsense to anyone that's been around the block and justify it.

All for the feature, but jesus wept, wake me up from cartoon business and changing the world with both hands in my pockets.

Ezra

Sounds like a pride issue of why Linden Lab won't hire Qarl back. He was let go and didn't respond quietly like most laid off Lindens did. But its not like he went on a tirade or anything so its unfortunate he wasn't hired back when Rod started ramping up hires. He should be put in a position where he can do exactly this; work on hot topic JIRA feature requests because obviously he excels at it and makes us all happy, productive, and willing to dump cash into Second Life.

I'm glad Linden Lab is working with him now to ease getting this feature in, but its a shame they won't simply rehire him to do exactly this; work on hot topic JIRA feature requests. It just seems somewhat backwards Rod in his first year has routinely expressed wanting to attract talent to Linden Lab, even going to conventions and such advertising Linden Lab, yet one of the best things he could do for Second Life is to spend half an hour on the phone with Qarl and see if they could work something out.

I bet if on Hamlet's survey of how Second Life could be improved in a short amount of time, if "rehire Qarl" was an option, it'd have eclipsed a lot of the other ones.

There's some other Lindens I miss too like Babbage especially, but Qarl's kept engaged and has actually publicly asked for his job back.

I won't call this whole episode 'embarassing' as I don't think we can shame Linden Lab into doing what's right, but come on...who's applying for a job at Linden Lab with a resume better than "I invented sculpties"? And mentioning that alone is a disservice. Ridiculousness.

It seems so obvious that I wonder if Rod even knows how instrumental Qarl even was. Or that we protested and burned sculpties like crazies when he was fired. Maybe we gotta burn something again :)

Melissa Yeuxdoux

What Ezra said. Please, Rod, rehire Qarl.

Dartagan Shepherd

@Ezra

"I won't call this whole episode 'embarassing' as I don't think we can shame Linden Lab into doing what's right, but come on...who's applying for a job at Linden Lab with a resume better than "I invented sculpties"? And mentioning that alone is a disservice. Ridiculousness."

Loved that. And yes, if put to a vote I'd be yes for getting him back.

Great idea about putting him on some leading asked for features. Good for morale and a few well ... good features.

I'd consider a goal of expanding and going for a couple more sims in 2012 on seeing some momentum like that.

Open-crowd-source kind of thing, better product equals more money. I'm such a lemon-aid stand kind of guy.

Qarl Linden for Director of Wish List Operations. Please leave your bribes in the tip jar.

shockwave yareach

I truly hope Qarl finishes this, hands it to LL, and they INCORPORATE it into the viewer. Also if I may suggest something, a little checkbox to say "NO MORPH" because some things being warn should not change with the body shape. Take a look at Furry heads for example.

And LL? This guy is doing for pennies what you and your staff with 100s of millions in annual profits could not? I won't bother using the word "shame" with you. But I will use the word "pathetic" though.

Arcadia Codesmith

The process may be iffy, but I like the results. Qarl rocks :)

Pussycat Catnap

"I'm glad Linden Lab is working with him now to ease getting this feature in, but its a shame they won't simply rehire him to do exactly this; work on hot topic JIRA feature requests."

Where does this come from?

In all of this I seem to have missed any statement from LL saying they will pay any attention to his code.

Have they said as much anywhere?

I seriously hope they do, but I've not seen any statements to it.

I downloaded the code snippet, but I have all of zero idea of what to do with it...

Pussycat Catnap

"What Ezra said. Please, Rod, rehire Qarl"

When they tossed him out it almost made it seem like they were planning an IPO. Tech companies like to get rid of anyone who could ask for some share of the pie before they hand out the stock...

Keep the money in the 1%er Paris Hilton class rather than among the merit-class.

Other than that, there must have been some strange internal politics at LLs behind some of the people they shed, because it makes not sense, and this is just one of many...

Ezra

@Pussycat

Qarl announced in a podcast awhile ago that Oz called him and they figured out how to work together http://metarealitypodcast.com/ask-not-what-your-virtual-world-can-do-for-you

There's still no guarantee Linden Lab will accept the final result but that's a good sign they want to. Even before that during the mesh user group meetings that you can find transcripts of, Maxwell confirmed with Runitai and company that they'd give whatever resulted from the crowdfunder a fair shake.

So, things do look pretty good. I think its a matter of when Linden Lab will incorporate it rather than if. I think the mesh deformer is deserving of its own project viewer build, or at the very least someone like Runitai could sneak it into their personal automated viewer builds and advertise it.

Ann Otoole InSL

Oz is monitoring the Jira closely. It appears to me there is significant interest in this feature. However the ruth avatar mesh has significant model defects around the outside of the breasts as well as in the pelvic area which is going to cause a lot of headaches and additional coding to resolve unless LL replaces the base meshes with better models.

Pussycat Catnap

"Qarl announced in a podcast awhile ago that Oz called him and they figured out how to work together http://metarealitypodcast.com/ask-not-what-your-virtual-world-can-do-for-you"

Thank you. Because like most of us, I'm really looking forward to this.

I remember when Tailor first came out for Poser - funky in the first few versions but once you learned how to work with it you could suddenly get amazing results without taking the base .obj files out to Carrara or Hexagon or something expensive...

This deformer will allow mesh clothing it nearly fully kill sculpty/prim clothes (save for specialized uses). It won't kill texture clothes - but those already are being confined by sculpty and prim to 'what they're best at'

Given that mesh seems to be less resource intensive than sculpty, I'd hope a sane LLs would give this a serious eye. But without some evidence that they are - we all know 'sane' is not always the best description of LLs. :D

Pussycat Catnap

"However the ruth avatar mesh has significant model defects around the outside of the breasts as well as in the pelvic area which is going to cause a lot of headaches and additional coding to resolve unless LL replaces the base meshes with better models"

There's a JIRA out there with a hacked Ruth available. Hacked in that it was taken and some vertexes moved around to make it bend a little better. Its not ideal as its still Ruth. But that lets it use shape dials, skin maps, and texture clothes... Unlike most fully custom "mesh" avatars which are complex to edit, and then only if their creators decide to allow such perms.

What's needed is to hire one of the people now uploading full new mesh avatars to replace Ruth, and perhaps a Ralph as well. ;)
(and I would argue we need a base mesh for child also - so that child AVs don't look so lolita due to being deformed adults, but actually have proper child bodies - most child AV users do a lot of work to 'un-lolita' their look, but there's always still a bit of curve in the wrong place somewhere).

Pussycat Catnap

"Sorry, can't get past the fact that no company with self respect would even allow their customers to pay into "crowd sourcing" in order to improve their product."

Phillip Rosedale's new venture is a crowdsourcing company. So you're looking at a paradigm issue here.

What most people would view as an embarrassing fiasco, Rosedale, and by extension likely LLs, views as the road of the future.

- Lay off your employees, and make your customers pay their salaries directly... Step 3: Profit.

Dartagan Shepherd

@Pussycat Got you, right.

Actually finally learned by that podcast that management did in fact grow out of that mentality and go toward more sensible management.

The thing with the phil religion is that it worked to some extent with Second Life, but not for those reasons. There has always been mostly one and only one user content/user spaces virtual world leader since the mid 90's or so. LL came along, built a better one and became the leader.

SL is a great leap forward for that niche, it's solid with die-hard users. For the most part, if you do have a better virtual world than the previous leader, it's pretty hard to screw up.

The magic part of the experience that happens in SL, has been happening for years with far less "props". From MUDs, to IRC to VRML to games that can be used in ways not intended and other virtual worlds ... people spend all nighters finding ways to be creative, marriages are made and broken, lives are changed.

None of that is because of any phil-isms which consists of gee lets build a lego kit, or lets start by hiring a bunch of people that seem cool, but have no related experience and put them together with too much responsibility for coming up with stuff that they hadn't a clue what to do with.

Coffee and Flowers only concerns me because phil said he wants to interject some of those concepts into SL recently, which only needs product improvement, not useless cruft. Paychecks and production is what gets the job done.

That other venture is all startup and no product. Give them 2 years to figure out why they won't get past the "will pick your nose for 2 coffee dollars stage".

It's not a management human resources kind of reality, where you can just interject top talent into industries and skim 15% while playing on the edges of independent contractor and labor law. And it'll take time for some people to realize that it doesn't pay the rent.

It's not a world changer, it's bad for the real economy and job market and for peoples lives who are much better off with salaries and benefits.

But getting a chuckle out of phil saying in one recent interview that it's harder to get big investments and VC into it, and so wisdom is in small investments for everyone. All while telling them, well gee we don't exactly have solid answers and projections, we just umm ... build it and they will come because it's the future. I know where I'd be tossing that particular business plan.

Hit a good niche with Second Life and it sounds like they escaped that nonsense, as long as they don't bring that crap into SL. It's another blip in the startup lottery.

As for the sincerity, not buying it. It's televangelism meets startup to me, and it's both embarassing and insulting.

elizabeth (16)

i read that qarl now made an official code contribution to sl of his prim align tool. bc he got paid for his work on it in reals dollars

is really encouraging to see that happen. that he got paid in reals. it not matter who paid for it from indie dev pov. to know that if ur work is good then is a way now to get paid in real amounts of money. a way that other ppl with benefactor money are accepting of

now the devs not have to be beholden to any company or end up working for free or cups of coffee. not have to make a whole project or finished product either all by urself. can just make mods or new features for existing progs, even commercial ones

is the whole evol exploiting bloodsucking freeloading company whatever wahtever argument. whens that ever been not true tho. they been freeloading for ever on opensource anyways and that not ever going to change while ppl keep doing that way. so whatever about that really i think. is way past time that leveraging opensource to maybe somehow someway someday land a job with a big company

from the indie devs pov who just wants to work on stuff they really interested in and get paid so can pay their rent and buy food with reals then is way cool this. so \o/ qarl for leading the way

+

benefactors not silly ppl. their money having the exact outcome they are paying for. is putting the heat on linden. like linden already announce making a storm dev viewer with the qarl mesh code. even tho it not at the official linden code contribution acceptance level yet. without that kinda benefactor pressure then linden maybe not have done that. so \o/ benefactors

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