Cloud Party's Avatar Development Kit is now online which you can get right here in its first version (with other additions to come), with at least one feature I think is pretty innovative: Standard Definition versus High Definition:
One problem virtual worlds struggle with is letting users fully express themselves in their avatars while not causing performance problems for other users with slower computers who are nearby. We've come up with a way to address that problem: Standard and High Definition modes for avatar costumes. Each costume part will have at most one mesh/material combination that can be marked as 'Standard Definition' (SD). This must be under a certain triangle limit (the limits are defined per slot further down in this document). The other mesh/material combinations will automatically be marked as 'High Definition' (HD). HD meshes have no triangle limit.
In other words (if I'm reading this right), each avatar costume will come with a Standard Definition mode, so when you're in an area with lots of other avatars, you can toggle down, to reduce lag. And when you're just hanging around with one or two other folks, or want to take solo fashion screenshots, you can kick into High Definition mode.
Cloud Party CEO Sam Thompson explained more to me via e-mail:
"Right now the system is very much in beta, and everyone draws in HD mode all the time. Once the system is up and running, some users will see you in SD and some will see you in HD. Which mode they see you in is determined by the speed of their computer and how far away you are from the camera, tunable by the user of course.
"We'll also be providing preview tools for both the Outfit Creator and the marketplace, so you can easily see what you look like in both SD and HD before you make a decision to buy any clothes.
"The idea is that content creators will provide meshes that are HD only in addition to the SD mesh for a given costume piece. We're hoping that avatars will look mostly the same between SD and HD, just with less detail in SD: maybe your buttons aren't there or aren't as shiny, maybe your watch disappears, etc. For most computers, you won't even notice since they are in HD if they are within a short distance. Those with older computers or maybe mobile devices won't get the full HD look, but users will still be able to express themselves."
Overall, I'd say HD versus is SD is a fairly clever solution to a recurring problem SL users are all too familiar with -- lots and lots of great avatar customization, which few can really enjoy, because the lag it costs to render them is just too high.
Read much more here. And Cloud Party creators, please share your own Kit creations on High and Standard in Comments.
Image credit: "estelleparnall" from this Cloud Party community thread.Tweet