Thursday, 17 December 2015

Its Been a Long Road... and Still Travelling

Summer 2009 I was tinkering with prims, learning the art of making things with Akemi, and I said to her “you know, I could build some horns.”
So I did and the very first horns I came up with were Temptress and Prometheus.
It seems so long ago now – six years.
In that time, Second Life has changed and so have my products. From the release of my basic colour change system, Unlimited 1 to Unlimited 2 which improved things even more, to Unlimited 3, giving utter control over the products. Each stage was a leap forward.
But some things didn’t change. Namely the horns themselves – underneath everything, they were the same products as I designed back in 2009, and with as many texture and technology changes I have made, under it all, the same primitive objects remained.

Summer 2015. I was tinkering with mesh in the lab and I decided to do some experimentation with Materials.
Now, many people don’t get what materials are. The truth is, we have always had materials of sorts. You will know them better as “Shine” and “Bumpiness”. On this level though they were basic and you ended up with a polished surface, or with sculpts a surface that showed off the irregularities in the structures.
Materials are simply ways of adding detail to what should be a flat surface, and shine to highlight things. However the Advanced Lighting Model Materials are very different. No preset choices here. You create your own.
Anyhow, back to tinkering, and I decided to test out putting custom materials on to my Prometheus Horns. First lesson learnt was don’t do it. My sim unexpected threw a fit and the horns vanished.
After trying to work out what had happened I learnt that there is a limitation with Materials. They do not like Torus prims – which also happens to be exactly what horns use.
To give you an idea, Prometheus is a complex set of horns – 250 prims. By putting materials settings on to just one prim on the horns, the land impact went from 250, to over 12,500. And they were then instantly returned... and also I did manage to return a many items from my sim too... oops.

This meant one simple thing – in order to get materials on to my horns, I was going to have to change my horns to mesh construction.
This process hasn’t been easy – reworking every set of horns I have created over the years has proved to be something of a nightmare and something I have been doing on and off since this summer.

During this process has come a whole new design style too.
Many of the Torus metal “Sleeves” that were prevalent on my products has now been replaced with advanced gem sleeves.
Going through each set of horns, where necessary I have reworked the items, improved the structures of the mesh to make them smoother and more integrated, and I have even introduced a new U3 option for Two tone designs.
But the reason for all this work was integrating materials on to them.

The results... well, that is breath taking.
Comparatively speaking, my horns have always been market leaders, although in recent years, they have struggled against their more advanced competitors.
The Reworked Tartarus Generation of Horns has brought our products back up to the very top of their game and once again, Violet Studios horns are some of the finest on SL.

However you have seen the "Long Road" pictures... make your own mind up...

Always working to improve things, always understanding the jobs never done.


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