Saturday, June 2, 2012

One size (doesn't) fit all

The brouhaha over the mesh deformer rumbles on, apparently with no end in sight.  Quite a number of designers, in their own efforts to get a handle on mesh clothing, have adopted a range of "standard" sizes for mesh clothing, which enables you to pick out a size which will fit your avatar's shape, hopefully well enough that some judiciously placed alphas will ensure a perfect fit.  There's even talk of incorporating this standard sizing into the deformer tool itself, so that meshes can be adjusted to fit on these standardized models....

The problem, of course, is: what if you're not a standard size?

Which I'm not, and which most of the people I know who've made their own shapes are not, for all sorts of different reasons.  I went for a tall, willowy, slim build with little excess fat, a moderately athletic breadth of shoulder, and very slender hips.  As a result, I am a skinnier version of the Amazon Barbie type you see so often around SL; in "standard size" terms I am something like an M for height - and XS or XXS when it comes to bosom and backside.  (I figure my avi is something like a B cup size.... which, in SL, makes me an ironing board.)  Tali, who has tried for athletic and muscular and still magnificently curvy and feminine - as befits someone who is part jaguar - finds herself busting out all over, except at the bust, where she is naturally proportioned rather than SL standard.  As for those of my friends who have attempted actual naturalistic female shapes... they might as well give up now, really.

The standard sizes were apparently decided on by a survey of some 500 shapes.  I have a dreadful suspicion that those were 500 commercially available shapes.... which means, heavily biased towards SL's notion of the ideal woman - a baseball bat with watermelons nailed to it.

(You gentlemen can stop snickering.  The ideal SL male, apparently, has arms that barely reach to his waist, and a torso stuffed with Lego bricks instead of muscles.)

The problems are, of course, compounded by the fact that the basic SL avatar mesh could use some improvement to start with... the idea of "Avatar 2.0" has been floating around the blogosphere, but it's hard to see how that would be implemented without breaking an awful lot of existing content.  And that problem will only be exacerbated, of course, if people go ahead with making lots of mesh clothing based on the existing avatar model....

I don't know.  Rigged mesh was supposed to bring all sorts of benefits in its wake... but, unless the deformer tool gets going, it seems like the only way I'll get mesh clothes that fit me is if I fire up Blender and try knitting them myself.  (Which might not be a bad thing... but it's time-consuming stuff....)  Certainly, it seems that, unless you actually are a "standard" size, standard sizing is not going to help much.  If the deformer tool is fully implemented and fully integrated, it might be a help to designers, who can create outfits based on a range of approximate sizes, and wearers can then pick the nearest one to shrink-wrap onto their actual avatar shape.  But there is no way I am going to inflate myself into a standard size.  I have many ambitions in SL, but looking like I was drawn by Rob Liefeld isn't one of them.

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