Sand Castle Studios Creative Director, Reed Steamroller, took some time out to share his thoughts on avatar rigging with you in this guest post.
With mesh support coming there are still many unanswered questions for much of the Second Life community. A buzzword I think we’ve all heard so far is “rigging.” More specifically, rigging has been mentioned in context to the Second Life avatar. What all this means brings up more questions than answers.
First, what is a polygon mesh? Polygon mesh support will be another way for artists to get their content into Second Life. Mesh is sort of a standard across game and game-like platforms for content creation, that until recently has been absent from Second Life. As I write this article, however, the Second Life developers are working diligently at getting the software for this implemented on the Second Life grid. For more on this subject you can read my previous article on the subject.
Secondly, what is an armature/skeleton? These two buzzwords have been floating around the grid now for a while as well. They’re two words for the same thing, essentially. A skeleton allows you to build a series of joints with the intention that they modify a polygon mesh in a particular way. How they will end up modifying the mesh is up to their position and orientation. Skeletons can be humanoid in appearance, or something completely abstract.
So, what does this have to avatar rigging?
Well, avatar rigging refers to binding a polygon mesh to a skeleton. That’s it; that is all it means. You make a monkey, you make a monkey skeleton, and then you bind the monkey to it’s skeleton. That’s rigging. There’s some more technical work that goes into the process such as “weight painting” (here you go, another buzzword) to get things right, though.
What does all this mean? This means that artists in Second Life can now build polygon mesh objects and have the ability to bind them to the second life skeleton. Take a scarf for instance, and imagine that it wouldn’t just sit on top of the Second Life avatar, but that the scarf would bend and move with the avatar as it did. Simple items of clothing or similar can be rigged to the Second Life avatar, all the way up to full avatar replacements.
What does this mean to Second Life?
Much richer content in Second Life will come with the support for rigged, polygon mesh objects to be certain. There will be all new categories of content to be bought and sold on the Second Life Marketplace. These features may even attract a new wave of resident artists to the world, which is never a bad thing.