Avatar Evolution, Continued

Yours truly posing on display stand in Second Life

This post was originally written in November 2019.


Since I last updated this blog, there have been a few changes in Second Life. One has been the release of a new feature into the Second Life Viewer (and now the Firestorm Viewer that I use) called Bakes On Mesh. Yes, I know, not very self-explanatory, especially if you don’t know much about Second Life or other virtual worlds. In a nutshell, it’s a new way of dressing up your avatar, or rather an old way that can now be used with newer mesh-based avatars as well as traditional SL ‘system’ avatars.

A little history lesson: back when Second Life first appeared, things like skin, tattoos, hair, clothes, etc. were applied as layers onto the system avatar, and the SL servers would then ‘bake’ them into a single layer, which the viewer app would then display on your avatar.

More recently, various mesh-based avatars have been created, which are more detailed than the default avatars. Unfortunately, the old-style clothing layers didn’t work with these new avatars, so various workarounds were developed to deal with this. One of the most popular is the Omega System, which uses a relay device that does the layer application onto your avatar. The layers are packages up into applier devices, which talk to the relay device and send it the layers to be applied.

Bakes On Mesh removes the need for appliers and relays, and allows you to apply SL avatar skins, clothing, etc. directly to your mesh avatar. This has many advantages, both in time saved changing outfits and appearances, and in versatility since you can apply a lot more layers onto your avatar this way.

Of course, getting my Firestorm Viewer updated to support Bakes On Mesh was only the first step. I also had to update my mesh body as well. The final step was to retrieve the old-style clothing layers for various outfits and skins. Thankfully, most of the stores I bought those from offer a redelivery facility so I didn’t have to go purchase items again. Phew!

Once I’d done that, and gone through the steps to switch everything over, I could start playing with my avatar appearance! I’ve included some snapshots below.

Yours truly posing on display stand in Second Life
Yours truly posing on display stand in Second Life

One of the biggest changes was that my rainbow spots tattoo now covers my entire body! Previously, it had stopped at my neckline, and I’d been unable to get it to go onto my head despite my best efforts.

Another change is that I’ve now got a hair base on my head to go with my regular braided hairpieces. This was something I could have done previously, but it required a lot of faffing around with relays so I rarely bothered.

Close-up of my face
Close-up of my face

With my face covered in rainbow markings, my previous make-up didn’t really fit well over it. Luckily for me, I found some rainbow lipstick and eyeliner from a store called Dottie’s Secret, which does all kinds of beauty products for drag queens in Second Life. 🙂 I figured that I should go the whole hog and be as fabulous as possible!

I ditched my old eyes for some new ones, again in pink, but this time they’re the system eyes rather than mesh ones. Because I’ve purposefully made my eyes much bigger—I’m an alien, after all!—I’ve have had to either enlarge the mesh eyes (if they were modifiable) or move them forward a bit (again, tricky to do).

Resting at one of the hidden areas on the Tempura sim in Second Life
Resting at one of the hidden areas on the Tempura sim in Second Life

I’ve made a few other changed that aren’t related to Bakes On Mesh. I replaced the default teeth that came with my mesh head (GA.EG’s Barbera 2.0) with some vampire fangs. And I changed to colour of my tongue to blue. 😛 Again, to accentuate the alien.

Overall, I’m really happy with Bakes On Mesh. It’ll make changing appearances a lot faster, and also reduce the number of things I have to wear. 🙂


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