Linden Labs seems to have made a decision on a JIRA which could seriously adversely affect the development of the mesh fashion industry in SL. Let me explain.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on my own blog call ‘Do You Mesh?’ in which I explored some of the ups and downs of mesh clothing. I wasn’t alone in blogging about this, we were all abuzz with it that week, but while I found some styles I thought incredibly cute, like many people, I was concerned about the fact that mesh doesn’t fit your avatar: you have to adjust your shape to fit mesh (see pic at left).
The solution content creators have adopted is to provide an alpha layer which hides your body, so your shape essentially becomes that of the clothing, which of course is formed by the designer (and they all offer different sizes – but that’s another can of worms you can read more about in my original post.)
Maxwell Graf, the talent behind Rustica (and who I have dubbed ‘the mesh pusher’ for his advocacy of this technology), created a JIRA which offered a solution for this problem. It requests a parametric deformation feature which would allow mesh to mould to your shape (that likely means something to many readers; I won’t begin to go into the technicals here, I’d botch it up). It is something that has apparently already been implemented in other grids like Blue Mars, and Max feels that it would be fairly straightforward for Linden Labs to do something similar. Not overnight of course, but in good time.
The JIRA has received a lot of support, and meanwhile, some of us have become tried and true mesh converts. Even though I have my own misgivings about the shape issue, I’ve been happy to support creators like Max and Janie Marlowe who are giving it a go, and I’ve have been running around for weeks as an early adopter – despite showing up at events and having people who still use the old viewer IM me ‘Rowan, do you know you have no body?’
As such, it was incredibly disappointing to hear Max’s announcement on plurk that the JIRA, which had been under consideration, is now marked ‘someday/maybe’ – a pronouncement which to many means the idea is essentially dead (you can read about this in Max’s own words here). Does the Lab have an alternate solution? If so, let’s hear it.
I’d like to encourage everyone to go vote on that JIRA, watch it (as Saffia has explained, this is a very important aspect), and leave a comment! I also think it is worth considering whether mesh is a viable technology for the fashion industry until this is fixed. The fact that Linden Labs have not placed emphasis on making a tool that works with our chosen shapes says to me that they have a fundamental lack of understanding on the importance of avatar identity. Many of us have shapes that are very tied to our virtual selves, and have no desire to alter it for a pretty dress (although we’ve had to have a ‘reduced ass’ version of our body for the system skirt all along).
And if we aren’t buying… then the content creators will stop making… and the lucrative mesh upload fees they pay will fall by the wayside…