Last weekend, SL blogger Nalates Urriah shared a pretty important message with the fashionistas of SL on her blog: If you think Liquid Mesh is the solution to all our mesh fitting problems, think again.
Liquid Mesh/Redpoly Rigging is a technique employed by quite a few large brands in Second Life including Redgrave, and enjoyed by a vast number of residents who aren't satisfied with the Standard Sizing options that dominate mesh fashion and are sick of waiting for the Mesh Deformer to be implemented. It's an absolutely ingenious solution to the issue, but it's also a big risk for consumers. Here's why:
The Liquid Mesh technique involves rigging an item based on collision bones rather than the avatar's actual "skeleton", which allows it to fit closer to your avatar. However Liquid Mesh is officially unsupported, and given the work that's been put into the Deformer, it's unlikely that Liquid Mesh ever will be. What this means is that any eventual changes to the SL avatar could utterly break thousands of pieces of virtual clothing and leave both designers and consumers out in the cold as a result.
As the Deformer project seems dead in the water for many impatient shoppers, Liquid Mesh has been gaining a lot of momentum, which, as Nalates points out, could lead to an explosive negative reaction from residents when their Liquid Mesh wardrobes are rendered useless by an update to the SL avatar-- an update which sounds almost inevitable. [Edit: Granted that this is all second-hand information I'm probably reading too much into, inevitable is much too strong a word. But, if the plan is for things to carry on as they are now indefinitely, why respond to any concerns about about Liquid Mesh at all? Why acknowledge that widespread adoption could be problematic? I'm a bit skeptical that areas like the avatar and the deformer are as stagnant as they appear from the outside.]
It's a precarious situation for designers, consumers, and for that matter support staff on each side.
If you buy and wear Liquid Mesh products regularly (or know someone who does), educate yourself. Read up on what it really is and what the risks of investing in it are. I won't tell anyone not to buy a product they like or that works for them right now, but buyer beware: The next time you're picking up an item that relies on the Liquid Mesh method bear in mind that your days wearing it are probably numbered.
(Image courtesy of Nalates Urriah)
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Iris 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.