Shadowy details! [UPDATED AGAIN]

Of course, this being Second Life, I’m sure that people will complain about this amazing feature. On one side, we’ll have baffled builders, who currently use “fake shadows” — texture-baked (ie. an object is rendered on, say, Maya, with proper lighting, and the textures exported to Second Life — if you fix the sun on the sim, and do some clever tricks with spotlights, the scene in SL will look like it has shadows, although they will, of course, be fixed) or sometimes just “an illusion of shadows” placed on a separate prim. It adds realism, but… what if people view the scene with the new shadows-enabled client? Then, of course, the whole scene will be mess: fake shadows and “real” shadows all together, breaking the illusion. On the other hand, low and middle-end users will never be able to see shadows anyway. So what should builders do? It’ll be a challenge, unless, of course, you get a way to detect if the SL client being used has shadow-rendering abilities and change the scene appropriately… which will be quite hard to do. Then again, remember how for so many years Web designers had to create specific HTML pages for Internet Explorer, Netscape/Mozilla/FireFox, Opera and Safari/Konqueror?… Only the latest versions of all these browsers start to be able to render any possible page (if you exclude JavaScript differences), and designers still have to worry about their audience when designing a page. Second Life might begin to be like that: builders will not be able to create a single environment for a single, universal client.

Then, naturally, we have more creative opportunities for griefing:

“I do predict there will be at least a small number of cases of parcel encroachment ARs involving object shadows, if not full-blown creative shadow puppetry of phallic symbols and other offensive imagery”, says SignpostMarv Martin. “It would be far easier to cast an offensive shadow into another parcel (even another sim) than it would be to rez a megaprim, especially taking into account the possibility of features being added that allow Residents to return objects that encroach their parcel (regardless of what parcel the root object is in).”

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