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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Even though these two innovations have a few years between them, their impact was pretty similar. Much like Windlight, local lighting and dynamic shadows gave us much more control over the world beyond our avatar, control that has been especially well used by SL artists and fashionistas. Local lighting was also used by fashionistas to put their best face forward in the form of facelights, an invisible light source attached to the avatar's head to keep the face evenly (and flatteringly) lit. Although facelights are now more of an annoyance than anything else, both of these features shaved hours off of the discerning SL photographer's workload by dramatically reducing the amount of work that needed to be done in Photoshop to make a picture taken in SL look like more than just a picture taken in SL.

5. Multiple Layers (2010)

HairFair10

It's all about versatility, and the ability to wear multiple layers that came about with Viewer 2 all but ended an age-old problem for many designers, who until then as a courtesy often sold their items on multiple different clothing layers so that they could be layered properly with other pieces. There are still reasons to include these different layers of course, but it's much less of an issue than it once was. It was also very timely alongside the addition of tattoo layers, allowing someone to wear lipstick from Brand A, eyeliner from Brand B, and tattoos from Brand C without a second thought. Without multiple layers, it's unlikely that the tatoo layer would have taken off to the degree that it has.

4. Skins (2004?)

Iris Ophelia in Second Life Skin

You'll never catch me saying that all innovation in SL has been pushed by developments in the client; for example, we have residents to thank for the skins that we still enjoy today. Though it was a bit before my time, here's how I understand it went down: Early on, the texture slots in Second Life's skin editing window were intended for tattoos, until a few clever residents asked themselves "Why not put a whole new skin texture there instead?" Skins as we know them were born, sparing us from the utterly hideous world of default SL skins.

3. Prim Hair (2005?)

Swimwearheader

You can more or less reread the previous point, but replace "skin" with "hair". Second Life's default hair is absolutely horrific. if you've never played around with it, I would recommend that you try. It's... Enlightening, and it will make you grateful for even the crappiest most torus-heavy hairstyle you might have lingering in your inventory from the gruesome pre-sculpty days. Prim hair started with prim attachments like buns and pigtails meant to blend in with your default SL hair (the birth of the SL "Hairbase"), eventually evolving to cover the whole head, and even make use of alpha textures for a more soft and natural look. Washu Zebrastripe is most often cited as the "inventor" of prim hair, and her legacy is undeniable. According to LL, women's hairstyles are currently the most purchased items in all of SL.

2. Mesh (2011)

Mesh2

Mesh has allowed a huge leap up in quality alongside a notable step back in terms of that quality's impact. What once would have been 100 prims can now count as 10 without losing nearly as much of the original model's fidelity. It's been huge for almost everyone, well beyond the just realm of virtual fashion. What more can I say?

And yet... It's not at the top of my list. Why not? Well, let's not forget the impact of...

1. Sculpted Prims (2007)

Shinythings

Sculpties truly raised the bar in terms of the kind of realism we expected in Second Life, as well as the kinds of items that could even be recreated in the virtual world. They laid the groundwork for mesh, both in terms of what we wanted and expected as consumers, and in terms of preparing designers to deliver it. In some ways, sculpties were our pre-mesh trainign wheels. They opened up an amazing range of new shapes and designs that were next to impossible with the standard prim shapes built into SL, and even though we're now quick to turn our nose up at them in favour of their more attractive cousin, their importance to Second Life fashion and design is utterly undeniable.

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Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

Comments

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Damien Fate

Great article, certainly a trip down memory lane! :D

Ajax Manatiso

I'm wondering about LL's timing with the materials project. The latest version of the server showed slower rezzing times, and with the materials project requiring the viewer to download 3 texture maps for each object instead of one, naturally rezzing times will climb possibly 2-3 times as well. Will newbies or even veteran players wait several minutes for a great sim to rez?

zzpearlbottom

And i fear ssa code will not be the solution!
Another project that nobody asked but a few and that will make SL loose a lot more, cause it will make more users quit and less new ones arrive and enjoy (Does nay really tried a material viewer, if so did any noticed the dullness that the world looks now if any uses reg ll default day cycle?

zzpearlbottom

Sorry but i do feel sad, i had a wonderful last days experience on Sl and yesterday i did login with a chui and materials viewer ready, to see all around lost all beauty and become a grey dull world!

qarl

thank you Iris. it's much appreciated. :)

Monalisa

You missed multiple attachments.

Iris Ophelia

@Monalisa Good point, whoops! For the sake of argument let's tuck them in with Multiple Layers, though. :)

Tracy Redangel

My personal favorite SL innovations, which really fit in with mesh, maybe in a sub category, are mesh hands and feet.
Shoes and prim feet have progressively gotten better during the last couple of years, but this year alone, the bar has been raised with Gos and N-core's website data base of precision skin matching. No more fussing with RGB numbers. And then SLink took it one step further with providing huds so skin makers could make applier huds for SLink hands and feet.
I never, ever take my hands off now. And now Siddean (Slink) has created digital 'shoe lasts' so creators can make shoes to fit the Slink flat and medium arched feet. Hucci has made some fantastic shoes, and so has Leverocci.
It's just hands and feet, yes, but it's an illustration of how residents have taken a second life limitation (in this case, pretty unattractive basic avatar hands an feet) and figured out a way to create something better.

Anya Ohmai

Great article! I love that sculpted prims to you ranks #1 next to mesh, and I believe so as well. Sculpted prims were definitely our training wheels, and also truly gave not only creators but artists in secondlife a way to shine. They had to make something so bulky and restricted come to life and thats an artform by itself.
Lovely to look back and see all these advancements, we've come a long way!

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