Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good Prims, Bad Prims

Here's a Very Nice Use of Sculpties from Animania
Written 15 April, 2009

Good Prims, Bad Prims

Prims is prims.

Except when they're not.

Once upon a time, prims-- or primitives, as they're more properly called-- were available in a variety of geometric shapes: rectangle, cylinder, sphere, torus, prism, tube, ring, and cone. May 2007 saw the introduction of a new type of prim-- sculpted prims-- which can be shaped to almost any form.

Sculpties were an advance, for they allow the creation of shapes that were difficult impossible with standard prims-- but they required an entire new skill set to create, and yet another skill set to map textures properly to their surfaces. Their biggest advance was they could cut down-- sometimes dramatically-- on the numbers of prims needed to create complex objects.

Because of the difficulty in creating them, it has taken a full two years for scrupted prims to come to maturity in the various products sold on the grid. Today they're used extensively in clothing (for skirts, belts, shirtsleeves and pant cuffs), in shoes, in hair, in furniture in homes, and in vehicles. They're everywhere. Some sims are made almost entirely from sculpties.

From my point of view sculpties have a variety of problems.

First, they're difficult to make and even more difficult to texture properly. Hence there are altogether too many butt-ugly sculpties on the grid.

Second, they tend to rez slowly. Teleporting to a sculpty-heavy sim requires you to go make lunch or watch an epidose of Law & Order. When you get back most of the sculpties will have resolved. The rest will look like giant globes on avatars' crotches or piles of round stones on the ground.

Third, they don't work well in the environment. When set non-phantom their physical edges extend far beyond the visible so you will, for example, stand a good five meters above a sculpted rock. When they're set to phantom, you fall through them. All this can be partially alleviated with screening prims (regular prims that approximate their shape and are made invisible), but it still makes for bumpy walking.

And finally, they're used far too often when a regular prim would do just as well. Too many people have gone slap-dab sculpty crazy-- too many people who are just not that good at sculpties.
When sculpties make sense in their use-- and when they are formed well and textured attractively-- they can add much to Second Life.

Unfortunately, they often detract from the Second Life experience.


sororNishi said...


Hylee Bekkers said...

I’ve noticed that this also can have an effect on your traffic. SL residents tend to be impatient when they are exploring. If the area around them does not rezz quickly and grab their attention right away they tend to not wait and just teleport to the next location.

radarm said...

Honestly, LL needs to fix the problems with current sculpties and also allow mesh imports like realxtend does with ogre mesh files. Making stuff in a good 3d modeling app and then importing allows a lot more versatility, or rather it WOULD if sculpties weren't so limited at the moment.