Nov 252013
 

Maxwell Graf’s Rustica in Cloud Party is a very impressive setting:

Pirates? Ahoy?

Maxwell who has a presence in both Cloud Party and Second Life is a very accomplished content creator and the Cloud Party setting is very much a picturesque build to get lost in your thoughts and admire the scenery.

Rustica Building

However whereas the above builds are Mesh Maxwell has now started to play with Cloud Party’s inworld voxel building tools as he explains in an interesting post over at SLUniverse. Maxwell is downloading his Voxel build (which is a nice feature in Cloud Party), importing it into 3DS Max and then uploading the build to Second Life as a Collada file.

This process isn’t without minor challenges and Maxwell explains how he had to convert the downloaded obj file to FBX before it would play nicely in 3DS Max. However there are also benefits to this process.

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Jul 232013
 

Gaia Clary has announced in the official forums that the latest version of Blender, 2.68, now has improved weight painting tools. I’m not familiar with these sort of tools, so I don’t know how much of an improvement they are, Gaia, who does know about these matters seems pretty impressed. Gaia also helps to develop these improvements, so deserves much credit. I’ll embed Gaia’s video explaining the improvements at the end of the post, but this video is aimed at those who already have a knowledge of weight painting.

Gaia and fellow colleagues have worked on development with Blender to make it more useful for the Second Life community, for example they have been instrumental in seeing that Collada support is maintained and their work also saw options mentioning Second Life, coming to the Blender client.

However they don’t do this alone and Gaia thanks the main devs too for their assistance, so it seems there’s a very good working relationship at play, which is positive for Second Life going forward.

Version 2.68 also has other improvements over previous versions of Blender.

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Dec 262012
 

April

The teething problems with Direct Delivery meant that initial migration deadlines for getting rid of magic boxes had to be pushed back, there is still no definite date for migration.

Pathfinding started to get rolled out for testing and I volunteered a sim for the tests. I experimented with some patrolling prim cubes, unfortunately I haven’t got much further!

Image For Fantasy Faire 2012 Should Be Here

Fantasy Faire 2012

Fantasy Faire 2012 ran from April 21 – 30th, it was extended by one day, I took a look at a few stores.

Inara Pey reported that Linden Lab had obtained the rights to sublicense Havok. Linden Lab produced a page on the Wiki for this. The result was that TPV’s had to abide by LL’s agreement to obtain the sublicense, which is perfectly fair.

After their call to bloggers earlier in the year, Linden Lab made a more quiet call to specific artists regarding images for their website. Strawberry Singh being one of those asked to produce work for Linden Lab. This created a small ripple of damned if you do or damned if you don’t when there was some criticism of the nature of this call for assistance not being open to all. However the results were widely greeted in a positive light.

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Jun 172012
 

I’m seeing Second Life adverts in my Google Adsense stream again, I haven’t noticed these for a while but it looks as if Linden Lab are utilising adsense again in another marketing campaign, which is good to see. However this post is about the forthcoming release of Blender 2.64 and new features that have Second Life in mind.

Gaia Clary, who has been working hard with others to ensure Collada support in Blender is improved and maintained, brings us news on the official forum of new features in Blender 2.64. Collada is the format we use to import Mesh objects to Second Life, Blender were talking of dropping support for Collada as it was a buggy format, but Gaia and others have risen to the challenge of helping to improve it.

Blender 2.64 isn’t officially released yet, but the new improvements include:

  • Geometry data is now again named similar to the Object names (Object names are preserved).
  • The order of export for objects can now be sorted (avoid LOD matching problems).
  • Apply modifiers is non destructive. You no longer have to apply the modifiers before exporting. This works also with Mirror Modifiers and Shape keys.
  • You can now export a rig with stripped control bones as long as the deform bones define a complete SL Skeleton.
  • The reimport of exported collada files to Blender is still not fully fixed. But for static meshes it now works reasonable well (not so important for Second Life users though).

Gaia goes into further detail in a blog post on the subject, including a photo of an export option for Second Life, which will load some presets that you’ll generally want when you export your Mesh to Collada for use in Second Life.

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Feb 232012
 

Back in January I reported that there was talk of Blender dropping support for Collada. This was a tad concerning but as I pointed out at the time, not the end of the world. Collada is the format used to get Mesh into Second Life, so in Second Life terms it was important but you can happily use older versions of Blender to create content. Blender 2.62 hasn’t ended this discussion, but Collada support is not only still there, there’s now a mention of Second Life with the addition of a compatibility option for exporting armatures, which you can read about here.

There is also a mention of the issues with Collada and Blender there too:

There has been much discussion about the state of the Collada integration, it’s not currently working very reliable yet, and this needs to be solved somehow. A new team now started working to improve Collada support to get it more useful for integration with external tools and game engines, improving the existing OpenCollada based I/O module.

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Jan 202012
 

This is going to be a very basic tutorial, I am not going to cover super efficiency, texturing, UV Mapping or anything like that, although if you want your steps to be bloody useful, you’ll want to learn those aspects. Nor will I deal with reducing vertices, removing doubles and other tricks, although they’re useful, I’m not a teacher, I work in education but I’m not a teacher! Really what I want to do here is show how useful Mesh can be by demonstrating how to create a basic set of steps that will come in at One prim. Ideally Torley would be doing this with friendly greetings, however I’m not Torley and I’m not friendly!

I should also point out here that if you don’t know how to login to the beta grid, you should learn to do so! The beta grid is great for playing with Mesh as you don’t pay for uploads there, so perfect your Mesh on the beta grid. Details on how to login to the beta grid are here, but please note, you’ll need to pass the Mesh quiz for the beta grid too, even if you’ve passed it for the main grid!

Ok so to start with we need to open Blender, then press the N key so we get the properties up, which will show this menu:

Blender Props

The x, y, z dimensions work just like they do in Second Life, you have to do something to make them ideal, but it’s just like setting them in Second Life. For my steps I’m going to use settings of 0.750, 3.000 and 0.500 for my x,y,z settings, which is a nice size for step, choose whichever settings you think work best but remember this is for just one step.

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Jan 122012
 

The Mesh Forum has a post from Masami Kuramoto pointing to a mailing list discussion, which suggests that Blender, the hugely popular open source 3D creation tool, may soon drop support for COLLADA in release builds, if you’re unsure what any of this means, COLLADA is the format that users export their creations to from within Blender to make it Second Life compatible in terms of Mesh. The opening to the discussion reads:

Hi,

As everybody noticed current collada importer/exporter is very buggy which seems to make this format almost useless in Blender. And what’s much worse — we don’t actually have developer who maintains this area.

We discussed this already with Campbell and found that OpenCollada itself isn’t actually maintaning — there are only few commits in several months. Ofcourse it doesn’t mean this library is useless and all bug from our tracker is related on that issues, but still.. Maybe the time have come to re-think this importer/exporter (investigate if it’s possible to fix issues in clear way, check if design is good enough — not sure, haven’t touched this code deep myself)?

Here’s our proposal: – Move all collada-related issues into it’s own tracker. Like it was done with BGE, it might help finding volunteer to fix them. Also, people will see that it’s not actually core stuff and that it’s community-supported. – Disable collada in release builds. It’s not useable and only seems to be making artists disappointed.

More optimistic targets would be find volunteer to pick up this stuff who will make it usable (maybe rewritting this stuff from scratch..)

– With best regards, Sergey Sharybin

This initially looks like a massive blow to Second Life’s Mesh implementation, but in reality it isn’t.

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Aug 262011
 

Mesh is still making a lot of noise in Second Life circles, but Mesh won’t be for everyone and there are times when the good old prim, the lovely wonderful prim is far more useful for creators and consumers and here I’ll give an example, a door. I decided I’d make a Mesh door, now doors in Second Life generally require some path cutting so that they open nicely, objects rotate on their centre so a door has to be half invisible to work nicely.

Bearing this in mind I created the door in Blender, I decided to do a loop cut so I could have one half alpha textured and the other half with my door texture, so it would be able to perform the spinning on its centre door trick, this didn’t work well but one point regarding all this is texturing, I created my UV Map and ended up with this:

A UV Map for a door

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Aug 252011
 

What on earth is this shining project on the Jira? Alexa moved my Jira about the region setting that allows or disallows Mesh on a sim not working to the shining project …. a rather disturbing looking project complete with an icon of someone doing a “Here’s Johnny” impression!

Anyway Mesh is the talk of the Second Life related forum and blog crowd at the moment and I’ve been having a very slow dabble with Blender, seriously, can we have bigger days to go with these bigger prims. The tool of choice I’ve decided to use for Mesh is Blender, this is largely because as a hobbyist Blender gives me the most options, I’d love to have Autodesk Maya but unless Autodesk sponsor me that ain’t happening, there’s no way I’m buying such an expensive tool with my artistically challenged hands at the mouse and keyboard, maybe one day if I find I can utilise 3D builds nicely I will. However for those with large pockets and good skills, Maya is highly regarded but it’s not really suitable for noobs.

Anyway I’ve been looking at a few video tutorials on Blender, they are handy but I like to read instructions at times rather than pausing videos and I’ve gone back to a handy resource I looked at a while back when I was considering trying my hand at sculpties.

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Aug 052011
 

Mesh is on the grid, although not officially released, so getting ready for Mesh is an important step, although as I’ve said before the prim is far from dead and Mesh will have problems, especially early doors, with viewer compatibility. I’ve been looking at Mesh and settled on Blender as my tool of choice, which you can read more about here. I’ve chosen Blender because Autodesk Maya, which is a fantastic 3D Modelling tool, is expensive for a noob to 3D modelling like me, it is of course aimed at professionals, which I’m not. Another popular tool is Google Sketchup, but from what I can see the free version is for personal use only, so Blender is the tool that gives me the most options at the best price, in this case nothing but donations should be forthcoming.

First things first, anyone who tells you 3D modelling is easy is talking cack, trust me on this, it’s not easy, inworld building with prims is definitely easier to learn, however Blender is a powerful piece of software from what I can tell, now you may be like me and rush head first in and then bang your head on the wall and then follow a process like this:

  • Excitedly download the program.
  • Open it up and stare at a cube.
  • Look at the menus and think “WTF”.
  • Read some tutorials and think “WTF”
  • UV Mapping? “WTF”

However fear not, because I have fearlessly sought out some half decent tutorials which have allowed me to upload a mesh cube with a texture on it … it’s a start! I will share some of the useful tutorials with you.

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