Shopping in 2021 - the EEP Factor
Shopping -- one of the biggest pastimes in Second Life. Will it be changing in the future?
We don't know the answer to that of course. The future is -- well, the future. We do know that change is inevitable whether we like it or not. Two big unknowns as we move into the new year are "new owners" and "EEP".
Since we can't control the choices made for us, let's talk about EEP (our new environmental enhancement project) and how we can be smart shoppers as our world shifts.
Some of you have updated to an EEP viewer and others not. For those waiting for some more improvements before accepting, there is one important shopping tip you need to understand. Materials don't behave the same under EEP. This has been complained about for years and is still evident in the latest rendition of the Linden viewer. It is possible that some items will no longer be usable just from the ugliness factor. Some creators will remake the items and offer updates; some will not.
If the item is mod you may be able to turn off the material textures and still have a usable item - it all depends on how the item was made. If a creator relied a lot on materials, then the object may look very different with them turned off. So it would be wise -- especially if buying a fairly expensive item that you plan to use in the future -- to keep this in mind and perhaps venture over to the Linden viewer download area and install a copy so that you can see how your item might look in the world of EEP.
There are several ways that texturing is done in SL. There is a flat texture added to an AO map and then applied to a piece of mesh (full perm items as well as some original mesh are often made this way) ; there is hand painting to a texture plane that will be applied to a piece of mesh; there are auxiliary programs such as Substance Painter; and there is baked in lighting and texture such as Blender Cycles. Each of these CAN have normal and specular maps added either to enhance or to "make" the textures on the asset. How much of that is used depends totally on the person making the asset.
If a creator relies too much on materials to make their items look good -- that "look" may be very different in the future under EEP. Changes are here or they are coming. Some we have no control over. Others we can be aware and shop accordingly.
The top photo accompanying this post shows a building made using Blender Cycles with no material layers at all. This saves download time as well as trips to the sever to grab those extra layers. The "bumpiness" and "shine" are built into the textures. As noted there are many other ways that this can be accomplished without the use of materials.
You can turn off any jarring materials on an item by item basis as long as as the item is modify. Simply take the dot off of the radio button in question (here it would be bumpiness).