Mesh quality using up a single prim? Nah!

When I read Inara Pey’s article covering Ample Clarity‘s PrimPossible shop, I was a bit skeptic: top-of-the-line furniture design in Second Life® with just a single prim? No way!

As meshes have been introduced, residents have noticed that they are almost worthless for furnishing small parcels — except for some well-designed furniture, the result will end “eating up” way more of your Land Impact allocation (or, for you on older or non-LL viewers, “prim limits”). The algorithm for calculating Land Impact for meshes is not expected to change in the near future, so we’re stuck with older, non-meshed designs for our low-prim furniture.

Then suddenly I got notice of the exact opposite strategy. By using high-end 3D modeling software and an unsurpassable talent, Ample Clarity managed to squeeze a lot of interesting, traditionally very-high-prim designs (like pianos!) into… a single prim. Yes, you have to visit his shop to believe. There is no way you can evaluate the strange feeling of looking at incredibly detailed, beautiful furniture and right-clicking on it to check how many prims it takes and seeing that it only consumes… one prim.

The furniture is also fully functional, too. It includes scripting to change the finely detailed texturing to several colour sets. It includes sitting poses with several male/female combinations. And the beds have — of course — adult animations as well. One prim doesn’t mean “crippled” or “limited” functionality: you’re getting pretty much the same level of interaction and detail as you’d expect from high-end furniture designers. Ample really wants to compete with them, using the same amount of functionality. I was lucky to find Ample Clarity at his shop — perhaps I wasn’t lucky; perhaps he’s always there and helping his prospective customers; if so, that’s wonderful customer support! — and he even promised that he’d consider to include one of my most desired features on sit-target animations: the ability not to trigger any animation when sitting down, a crucial feature missing from most furniture. Why? Because I have an AO and have selected my own, personalised animations for the way I like to sit down 🙂 I don’t want furniture to tell me how to sit down, lol. Ample Clarity realised that he has the same issue with AOs and furniture, and promised to look into it on updated versions of his furniture scripts.

Of course, there is not yet an infinite amount of variety and choice. And at least on very low-end computers like mine, visiting a shop where perhaps 100-200 highly detailed sculpties are on display will create a lot of client-side lag. So, no, don’t buy his own shop and deploy everything in your home 🙂 On the other hand, getting one or two items, and, as a result, getting rid of 10, 20, 50 or more prims at home, will decrease lag a bit — and will give you lots of more prims in your parcel to work with.

This is the answer to a crippled mesh functionality — the same quality of a high-end mesh taking just a single prim. As it should be. Linden Lab should have noticed that people are not going to buy more land just to get high-quality meshes. Not at this time. Instead, they’re looking for alternatives to make the best of their existing prim allotment — and it’s things like PrimPossible that allow us to use our land more efficiently.

Another trick is to change the camera settings. Penny Patton proposes a different way of experiencing Second Life by suggesting that you change the camera settings. This really makes a huge impact. On relatively “normal” buildings, builders have not only to account for oversized avatars, but for a camera that is hovering some 6 metres over your head. We’re so used to it that we find it “normal” — and it means that buildings will have a ceiling at around 10 metres or so to “look” like a ceiling. As a consequence, everything in SL is huge, oversized — and eats a lot more prims and requires more land, of course.

Penny Patton’s camera settings bring a little more “reality” to your viewing experience. At the beginning you’ll find it a bit weird, of course. Then, after a few minutes, you’ll get so used to it — specially if you live around communities with small (or should I say, “correctly dimensioned”?) houses and streets, like I do. I have to say that yesterday, while walking on a narrow road around a mountain, I suddenly got this strange feeling: “Wow, this looks just like a scene in Half-Life 2!” No, it wasn’t that SL suddenly became lag-free (it was even a rather laggy area on an openspace sim). After a few moments I realised why I had this experience: the camera in SL with those settings now looks much closer to what videogames use. There is a deeper sense of engagement with your avatar, too — it’s not just something pretty that walks around “down there”.

So, high-quality, one-prim furniture, inside of cramped house, and new camera settings to fully enjoy the experience. That’s quality of life! 🙂

Thanks for Inara Pey for being constantly on the watch for innovative things in Second Life. Many thanks to Ample Clarity for the nice in-world chat about the incredible work done on PrimPossible’s furniture.

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