Mesh Avatars?

Ebbe Altberg (aka Ebbe Linden) debuted a new mesh avatar at the VWBPE conference this weekend.  Jo Yardley had a picture of it on her blog – see the picture here.

I must say, I personally don’t like the look of this avatar.  His eyes look bloodshot and the overall look, to me, is somewhat menacing.  However, this is (according to Ebbe) one of the new mesh avatars that will be an option for new accounts.

Aesthetics aside, what does this mean to the rest of us?

So new accounts get a mesh avatar, but since I have an established account, I have to pay for one?  Do I even want a mesh avatar?  I’m not sure I do.

I like mesh clothing, but I’m not clear on how a mesh avatar can wear mesh clothes. I have enough trouble already adjusting to mesh clothing. I refuse to make a shape for every outfit, so I just modded one of my shapes for mesh and use that shape when I wear mesh clothes.  However, a lot of people don’t have moddable shapes.

As a dancer/performer, mesh clothing isn’t always a great option.  A mesh skirt can be great because the panels don’t appear to move through your legs when you’re dancing. But doing a kick and having your legs appear to be disconnected from your torso can be a disconcerting sight to audience members.  Mesh clothing also presents issues if you remove it during your performance, because it may take a few seconds (or quite a few seconds) for the alpha to disappear and your avatar to reappear.  I’ve seen dancers who appear to be missing limbs and/or pieces of their torsos because they removed a piece of mesh clothing.

And now fitted mesh is hitting the market.  As I understand it, the fitted mesh is supposed to allow creators to make mesh clothing in one size, rather than having to provide the 4 or 5 ‘standard sizes’ we’ve gotten used to with mesh.  I tried on a fitted mesh dress yesterday and it did fit well, just needing adjustment in one area.  As someone who constantly worries over the size of her inventory, I would love to only get two items – the alpha and clothing, rather than what happens now.  When I buy a mesh dress, I get at least 5 items – the alpha and 4 sizes of the dress.

I’ve also run into issues with trying to wear too many mesh objects at once (something I didn’t realize was limited).  You can only wear 5 alpha layers at one time.  I currently wear on a regular basis: an alpha for my shoes, an alpha for my eyelashes, and an alpha for my SLink hands.  That only leaves two slots for mesh clothes – add in a top and pants, and I’m at the 5 alpha limit.  There are creators who are combining alphas to combat this problem, but if we go to mesh avatars as well, how will that work?  Then you have one alpha for the avatar itself – and then you have to add the others on top of that?

I just saw, several weeks ago, that the creator of the SLink hands/feet has released mesh heads.  I haven’t looked at them closely, but they do appear to have some interesting options, like changing eyebrow color, lash style, facial expressions, etc. through the use of a HUD.

If mesh avatars become the norm in SL, does that mean that system clothing layers will become obsolete?  I’m not sure I like that idea, as it causes issues when dancing and performing.  Although it would certainly make it easier to reduce my inventory count if I could no longer use system clothing.  🙂

It seems like there are lots of new changes that will be happening in SL in the days ahead.  Change can be exciting, but also scary, so it will be interesting to see how SL residents react to these changes.

Would you use a mesh avatar?