The brand new -- 24 in all -- SL avatars were just released (May 15, 2014). How do they stack up to the avatars we have known for the past decade? I take you with me on my adventure and first impressions. Photos as I type.
The official SL announcement let us know that change is here. While the blog posts suggest that you need the "latest Second Life Official Viewer", any fitted mesh viewer will do. Since I had just updated FS a few days ago, I was set.
I found the AVATAR button which let me cycle through the choices. Personally I thought the photos of the fellows looked a lot better than the gals, so I picked the guy at right who -- to me -- looks a lot like Keanu Reeves (insert small panting gesture and sound here).
I logged in Lani so she could try a female avatar. To my amazement the proportions were very different. Now Lani isn't a petite gal by any means, but she is short by SL standards (6 feet). Our guy appears to be a very average size based on real life -- definitely something to note.
The first thing I noticed about -- let's call him Kean, shall we? -- was that the clothing was leaps and bounds (BIG bounds) ahead of the typical "newbie" garb of recent editions. Materials were evident and his hands especially looked extremely nice.
My first question as a fashionista and a mesh designer was "how is this going to look for folks who can't or choose not to run with Advanced Lighting on? The answer is pretty damn good. Lots of clapping from me for the excellent and smart use of those extra material layers.
It isn't very obvious from these UNRETOUCHED photos, but as you would suspect, this being fitted mesh -- there is that "layer of air" thing going on. Better for the fellows than the ladies; most of us spend hours at the gym getting our bodies in svelte shape. What? You didn't know that?
The new avatars come naked (yes very naked but without manly extras of course -- there is that fitting issue with clothes.
And let's talk about clothes!
Texture clothes no long work. Rigged mesh (the standard variety) no longer works primarily because alpha layers no longer work. What does that give us? Well pretty much a divided fashion industry. I can either throw about 10,000 items away (most likely more) and start over -- or?
It wasn't difficult to see this coming. The back end of the Marketplace listings has recently had a section added on the listing page with check boxes " Clothing works with -- classic avatars -- mesh avatars" along with info on what brand of mesh avatar and the URL where people could buy that matching mesh avatar. A few weeks ago I was thinking that in a couple of years we would all be a new kind of doll. That may happen sooner than I suspected.
I decided I wanted to try one of the female avatars. Looking though the selection, I couldn't find as many as advertised. Then I discovered there are twelve new VAMPIRE avatars. Now I knew that was a popular genre, but not that favored. The classic avatars are also represented on a third tab.
I honestly didn't like any of the female avatars, but this one was the best in my opinion.
She comes naked also, no modesty garments that appear on what will now be known as the classic avatars.
There are no nipples or other feminine details. I personally think it is extremely sexist to allow nipples on guys and not gals.
While in female garb I discovered that current fitted mesh -- items made for the classic avatars using the standard sizing models will not work with the new SL mesh avatars.
There is one bright spot in your inventory. HAIR seems to work just fine, both current rigged and long ago far away items that might be lingering in the bottom of your closet. So hair makers have nothing to worry about!
The new SL mesh avatars are a huge step forward and will likely entice more players into the "game". Assuming that The Lab will release these default avatar meshes into the wild (creative commons license perhaps) there is a whole new industry to be born.
Here are a few more details worth noting.
* Animation emotes and emote huds no longer work.
* Hands are very open and while they look good in the pose above, the female ones will be problematic with many poses.
* Skins of course could be much more finely rendered with more details.
* Shoes as in clothes will need to be made for the different avatars.
* Some of the bare feet on the women are terribly ugly; Kean looks good. I did not check them all.
* You can change your shape by wearing a different one; however it does NOT change the head. You can definitely be taller or bustier or fatter than the default.
The long time pose problem areas have not been fixed; in fact it seems like they may be worse.
On the plus side clothes for the new avatars can be interchanged. Here the Delilah avatar is wearing the Marissa Bustier.
I will say that the fitted mesh garments for the gals do a better job fitting closely than I have seen in general on the current fitted mesh for classic avatars. A good sign.
Once you try on the avatar, those wardrobe items appear in your inventory. Find them in the top layer in your CLOTHING folder (see screenshot below).
If you try on a character a few times, you will have multiple folders with the same items. So be neat and spiffy up that inventory when you are through playing.
This is just the beginning.
If the new mesh avatars that come with the viewer for the new folks look this good --
the possibilities are endless,
simply because we have some of the most talented folks around that are intent on making us look the best we can.
Poses by: Diesel Works