Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mesh & Educators

Mesh Boy Takes a Tour
Location: SL with Mesh, OpenSim Without

The new meshes for SL, in some quarters, get depicted as the savior of the virtual world.

Um, okay. That's worth its own post...I don't know that Linden Lab will see tens of thousands of new and tier-paying users just because their world looks better. But educators, busy with so many other things related to their teaching, may not even know what the fuss is all about.

So here are a few premises for those new to Mesh, before I moderate next week's VWER meeting, entitled "Mesh In SL & Education: Boon? Bomb? No Big Deal?":
  • We've always had a mesh system in SL. The new one simply provides more realism such as clothes that move with the avatar better and, mostly, fit well
  • The new system requires a new viewer and, for developers, new out-of-world tools for making 3D content
  • Gradually, viewers based on the 1.23 code will not be worth using, as Mesh content will be invisible. I saw this last week at VWER, where an early-adopter's mesh cat avatar remained invisible, except for her sculpted head and tail
  • Prims, sculpted or Euclidean, won't vanish. Nor will our clothing layers, unless there's another nekkid-avatar bug like those in the early SL Viewer 2 code
  • SL Viewer 3 is not the only option. Thank God. I'm biased against the Linden product after the lag-fest I've had with Viewer 2. I downloaded the Firestorm Viewer 3 Beta, and it permits seeing the new meshes
  • Overall lag with the new viewers remain to be seen; I need to test Firestorm against the crowd we get at VWER.
Now for a short editorial. I just finished more building in Jokaydia Grid, using in-world tools and Photoshop. With Mesh, however, I cannot do collaborative builds in-world with a team, and acquiring the skills-set for the new content isn't worth my professional time. In this pic, I used a cylindrical prim to put a rotten corpse into a tomb, the sort of thing that could look downright terrifying with the new meshes.
A Rotten Discovery
But I doubt that my students will spend more than 30 seconds at this particular spot. What price in time and energy to take the next step to more immersion?

My evaluators could care less about mesh, and to be fair, why should they? For assessing educational outcomes, they don't need to know a sculpted prim from a Slim Jim. My colleagues working in virtual worlds will need to ask themselves some hard questions, unless they work at a school where students have the skills to create items using the new meshes.

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