Do Disproportionate Avatars Lead ‘Normal People’ To Leave SL?

EDIT: This is about proportion. Not height save for where it is disproportionate. If you think this is a ‘height police’ article, try to remember the last time someone was denied access to a venue for being too tall. Some folks are using that term, ‘height police’, backwards.
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The basic question is: Do the severely disproportionate avatars that make up the majority of Second Life create a low-key alienation that causes people, especially newbies, to leave SL?

In an article on building by scale or eyeballing, the origins of the distorted and wacky stretched avatars in SL came up.
(Ok, the commenter just made a comment about the height, and Penny’s argument that smaller avatars get back more land, then linked to me, so it showed up on my referrers this morning.)

I believe LLs didn’t set the default height – residents did. I could be wrong because if Ruth is a giant, then the blame might rightly be on LLs.

We -CAN- blame them for the horrible anatomy, and the sliders all having the wrong ranges (such as female arms only being normal at 90+). While we can credit them for having given us so much amazing customization, they did it with notable flaws. At the time they started SL, I was in the Poser community and there was keen awareness of anatomy in 3D models. There were a -LOT- of people putting out human meshs. Some for free. Most of them would have -LOVED- to pad their resumes with “I’m the person who made that avatar for SL.” But somehow LLs got a base avatar made by someone who clearly flunked Mrs. Frankenstein’s 7th grade art class. Hmmm…. or maybe that’s the one art class they passed…

As to freakish heights and all the distorted shapes in SL… We residents can hold the blame for that.

People lacking a meter on the editor, and being new and so not knowing to rez a prim. Plus, not knowing what metric means… (my assumptions) people just got it wrong.

My guess is they wanted to be ‘big and cool’ so they slid the dial all the way up. Next person comes along and wants to be ‘bigger and more bad’ so matches, and then slides up the leg slider as well…

And so on, until we hit today were half these avatars have all the dials that can add to height maxed out.

The end result is all of the Baketballer T-rex avatars we have in SL now. Male and females. 99% of them have T-rex arms. If you’re a female avatar above 5’7″ or so, it is impossible to -NOT- have T-rex arms.

But that was 2003, this is 2012. No excuses left. Yet “professional” shape makers are the absolute WORST people in SL at making shapes. The more expensive the shape, the more horrid the anatomy. Want a good super looking and amazing shape? Go grab a rezzday noob, put them in front of Penny’s or my proportion guide (or pad your results and make them read both), then take the result. It’ll be better than 90% of the grid. Even if its tall. :p

Ok… but we know that won’t happen… we have what we have, and it looks horrible and jarring to the eyes.

The alienation issue:
Anyone used to looking at real life art, anatomy, or even with a good eye for visual composition will notice this and end up a bit alienated in SL.

Sometimes I suspect the reason so many people in SL have strange personality quirks is that “normal folks” find SL visually jarring due to how distorted the avatars are. :p
– They see it, but aren’t trained to recognize it, so it gives them a reverse-uncanny-valley effect of alienation, and they don’t realize how easy it is to correct, so they leave after a bit proclaiming other reasons like “SL plays weird.”

We have even Phillips Rosedale claiming we’re all a bunch of sad pathetic freaks. Ok I exaggerate – but his comment was not exactly stellar… And he’s also tried to say SL is successful, but we users have no imagination.

– If we try to parse that out of the way tech geeks speak, which tends to be harsh, blunt, and more critical than they intend (if a tech geek thinks something is mildly dull, they will call it pathetic. Very common among them to over-criticize. You might see me doing that here, and realize that I’ve been working with tech geeks for almost 3 decades now… it rubs off).

What we might end up with is that he thinks SL’s users are a little off from the range of normal. But we also desperately want to be normal. Ie: We’re not proud of what we are.
– But because we have a distorted sense of things, maybe a lot of SL users really -CAN’T- see that their avatars look freakish (see also).

A friend of mine with very strong aspergers has tried to be an artist a few times – but the work always comes out surreal, taking my eye to point out why others are not seeing what was intended. On the other hand some of the most amazing art in history was made by people who were not ‘handicapped’, but actually deranged.
– SLs users are not insane. Well… most of them are not. But they are ‘special people.’ And not in the way your kindergarten teacher meant.

There are a lot of extreme individualists here, A lot of people with anger issues, and a lot of people with extremely strong preferences for things “polite society” looks strangely upon.

So now, my giant leap in logic is to assume this comes out in the shapes of avatars. Or more precisely, the inability to see when the shape is distorted and “wrong” on a scientific, anatomical level. People with a level of disconnect with socialization, end up less able to see when something which is a social cue is off-kilter. It doesn’t alienate them the same way it alienates “the masses.”

SL is a surreal freakshow to walk through most of the time. And I’m not talking about the art builds. But normal everyday everywhere SL. Its a freakshow looking at the tall spindly avatars with skinny unreal frames and giant butts, frowns, fish-lips, and so on.

I suspect this is very off-putting to so-called “normal” folks.

As long as we have these freakish avatars there’s visual alienation going on in SL. And not talking about the furries here… I’m talking about the Fashionistas. The 7-foot tall legs up to the sky but skinnier than a pencil with a rear end the size of Texas…

Consider that slight high pitched whine coming out of electronics when something in the frequency is just a tad off. Over a few hours of sitting around it, you can get a headache, and then you start to get moody, you start to lose focus on what you were up to, and maybe you end up leaving or not getting something done, or having an argument with someone there… and while you think it was because of what they did, or because you didn’t sleep well, or you had other things on your mind… it all came back to that little whine jolting you slightly out of your comfort zone.

People can look at furries, aliens, animals, cartoon characters, and so on – and accept its different and -MEANT TO BE DIFFERENT-. They then jump into or away from it or don’t care. But when they look at something meant to be identifiably human and alike to them, but its got this ‘low key something is off’ about it. Something they can see, but lack training to explain…
– They get tossed out of their comfort zone. Over time the annoyance builds up, and then they give up.

Having tried some MMOs with bad 3D models before, and being slightly art-trained, I’ve a keen sense for when “the look isn’t right” and knowing why. Most people can get the first half of that – feel its not right. But not the why. But I’ve seen some things rapidly lose their audience because the visual was not right. Other things may have subpar content, but capture amazing audiences because the visual is tight and iconic.

SLs visual is off.

The anatomy is so poor, and the avatars so often off… and I suspect this is one major and yet largely unrecognized reason for the poor retention of new users.

But the solution (assuming you believe my idea is somewhat correct)… that’s going to take one person at a time, until a critical mass is reached. And its unlikely to occur anytime soon.

If you start with good body proportions:
https://catnapkitty.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/getting-good-body-proportions-in-second-life/
literally -EVERYTHING ELSE- just falls into place.

  • Animations from motion capture work better (but those made inside of SL with anypose work worse).
  • You get more land usage back
  • Your mesh costs less Land Impact when scaled down
  • Your avatar starts to feel more ‘real’ looking and so more comforting, even when its a furry.
  • You get to lecture people about not being a child avatar. :p
  • You stop alienating the noobs, newbs, and others around you with your wacky anatomy. :p

Mesh clothes don’t care if you’re tall or short, thick or thin. They care about stretch of bust-waist-hips

Sept 18, 2015 Edit: Obviously fitmesh bodies are the clothing made for them are an exception to this. As to regular fitmesh on the default avatar – for some reason I have as yet been unable to find any that actually fits…


I keep seeing this over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, again… πŸ™‚

Something like this:

The […] standard sizes are ridiculous. Oddly, they seem to have decided that [large are fat][small are skinny][etc]. I wonder if those who created the β€œstandards” ever [assorted complaints]

This is because the person concerned is reading a word the way say, men use it when they shop in the real world.

Mesh clothing works a little more like a lot of T-Shirts do, and a lot of women’s cloths. Where a size small means you’re skinny, and a size large means you really don’t need to stop at Burger King on the way home tonight.

Think of it like this, using the standard sizes:

XXS: Michael Jackson would have done a concert to feed you.
XS: You look thin
S: You’re fit.
M: You shop in the plus size section.
L: You have reserved seating at the local Fried Chicken joint.

And just bump those one position for men, since male STandard sizes go from XS to XL. Male XL is basically female L.

You could still be taller than Abe Lincoln, or Shorter than Mini-Me. It just don’t matter.

Look at the standard sizes program, notice how it only seems to care about a few certain dails:

Women:
Body Fat
Torso Muscle
Breast Size
Love Handles
Belly Size
Leg Muscle
Butt Size
Saddle Bags

Men:
Body Fat
Belly Size
Torso Muscle
Love Handles
Leg Muscle
Butt Size
Saddle Bags
Package
Pectorals

Notice what’s not in there?

Height. Having T-Rex arms or legs. Your neck. Your head. Your ‘thickness’ dial.

Why? Cause mesh doesn’t care. These are scale dials, or for the head – would not be important unless you wanted to buy a mesh ski-mask to go rob the local stop-n-rob in Bay City (hey I own that shop…)

There are only two dials that matter for mesh that are -NOT- in the lists above; Breast Buoyancy and Cleavage. If you don’t know why – you’ve never touched real boobies… πŸ™‚

So if you’re tall and thin, and you looked at Standard Sizes and thought “this is broken”… go try the XXS or XS size. That’s probably you.

Mesh fits a -LOT- more people than some think. Many who feel it doesn’t fit them are in fact within the zone of commonly used settings.

The deformer won’t help these folks. If they grab a ‘large’ mesh and deform it to their tall but thin avatar – it will be a mess of nasty triangles poking out. They need a small mesh, because they’re thin.

Some folks waiting for the deformer, will be in an EVEN WORSE MESS once it gets here, because they “never read the manual.” These folks just need to learn what mesh does effect, and then they can find existing items that are close. And the deformer will just take that close and get closer. It won’t turn a circle into a square folks – it will take a square and bevel it.

Standard Sizing Package For mesh Clothing Design; Good or Bad Idea, or a Bit of Both?

Still need to do some edits to this… There’s a lot of argument (hardly debate, more rantish most of the time) against the ideas of standard scales and proportions for avatars. Folks often pick a horridly distorted shape, or make one for sale; and then become attached to defending that choice when made aware of its problems. Others choose a ‘fun-house mirror look’ on purpose, for effect – but these folks tend to actually know what they’re looking at, and have purposeful distortions designed for a specific intent.

Various arguments have formed over what can be done, or even if anything should be done, to address this.

Mesh now complicates the whole feud – due to the lack of its ability to ‘auto fit’ some shape dials, while perfectly matching others… Or in short; mesh will auto size itself to any height, limb length, or body width. But if your ‘bust-waist-hips’ fail to match the model used to make the mesh clothing, you’re out of luck.

Go shopping for mesh clothes and you’ll discover that this is rapidly dissolving into exactly the chaos people predicted when they warned of the problems of Linden Lab not including a deformer… There’s a motley variety of dimensions to clothes on the market, and the labels are near meaningless. Small from brand A is ‘the fat lady sings’ in the eyes of brand B… And even if two brands match for waist and hips, they might have very different ideas of bust…

I’ve read a little bit on the idea of starting a standard, and have been somewhat critical of it in past topics. Still not convinced, for some reasons noted below. But it also may be the only real solution we have unless and until Linden Lab decides to grace us with the “gift” of including the code community members had to fund a third party contractor former Lab employee to make without any guarantees it would even be adopted… That deformer… the sort of thing that really should have been a ‘cannot ship mesh without’ line in the sand element. This is the kind of lack of core feature that in most development communities, management should have laid down the law and put people’s jobs on the line to get in there before Mesh was released.

I’m ranting…

Ok, so, the above in mind, I stumbled across something interesting last night while looking for a completely different thing on Marketplace (I was looking for an SL version of a Bobo Shanti turban hat for a female Rastafarian – which is NOT those touristy hippie tam things – and that somehow landed me here after giving up on search and just hitting a few random browse buttons.)

Someone on marketplace is attempting to develop a standard sizes fashion system. 5 sizes based on these dimensions:

Medium:
Body Fat: 11
Torso Muscle: 38
Breast Size: 58
Love Handles: 31
Belly Size: 6
Leg Muscle: 56
Butt Size: 44
Saddle Bags: 36

Small:
Body Fat: 7
Torso Muscle: 35
Breast Size: 52
Love Handles: 28
Belly Size: 3
Leg Muscle: 50
Butt Size: 38
Saddle Bags: 33

The ‘package’ is a freebie with 5 shapes, that I assume have those numbers alongside the other values – the notion being that you just need to stay close to the dimensions here and any mesh clothes made for it will fit you.

It also comes with a long notecard explaining the objectives of the project, which seems a very noble goal. Some anticipated concerns are answered, such as ‘what if my shape doesn’t match these numbers’.

Finally, it has a download link to a zip file of some mesh objects – bodies to load into a 3D application to use for building clothes to match.
– I need to learn how one takes the SL avatar mesh out of SL and into a 3D app, to see how this part was done.

– The problem is they have 3 sizes under M, and only 1 above it; which is way above it. Some of the reviews on Marketplace have slammed the project for this. I would say it needs at least 1 more size in between M and L.

Note how the dimensions are basically bust-waist-hips related. Not height. Also not ‘Thickness’. That’s because mesh doesn’t care about height or limb length or avatar thickness; it rescales to those automatically, but not to these other things.

But it is missing cleavage which is extremely important. That said, its something that in RL adjusts depending on what you wear anyway, so no one has any business complaining a clothing item fails to match their cleavage setting, unless they’ve never seen a real woman’s body. πŸ˜‰
– Honestly no ‘breast’ setting should seen as something to get attached to. Its the nature of wearing or not wearing clothes that it ‘mashes up’ the soft tissue there. Folks just need to get used to changing the dials for that part of the body to fit their outfit, because anytime you put something on in RL, that’s exactly what happens to you.

The standard sizes ‘team’ claims to have surveyed 500 female avatars, but I see no link to a blog or to the survey for it to be checked for accuracy. While 500 is a valid sample size (anyone who has actually studied polling at a university level knows this) – the question that is more important is how were they selected… Again, never saw any forum post or group notice or blogs announcing it. But maybe I just missed them. So the product should link to them.

Curiously M and S are very similar to my own dimensions for those parts.

Me:

Body Fat: 3
Torso Muscle: 37
Breast SIze: 50
Love Handles: 29
Belly Size: 0
Leg Muscles: 50
Butt Size: 45
Saddle Bags: 30
– So I’m going to test some items made with this system and see how well it works for me.

I’m also wondering now if my avatar has a bit of a ‘bubble butt’ on other people’s screens… πŸ™‚

Almost every shape setting not listed above (again except for cleavage) DOES NOT MATTER for mesh. This means two people can be the same “size” on this system but actually have completely different ‘shapes’.

I’m also of the opinion that for standard sizes they should have used dimensions from the real life fashion industry for some top brands, and not SL. Second Life avatars are notorious for being deformed monstrosities… πŸ™‚ Something to help people look better would be good.

Something like perhaps, a Proportion guide, if not fashions with sizes based on the variety real life fashion designers contend with.

Addendum from a comment I left on the nwn blog:
SL of a year from now will likely be something very alien to the SL of today. Mesh frees up a lot of past limits.

Right now folks are paying most of their attention to clothes and avatars, because that’s “sexy”.

Things like tears, ‘male bits’, hair, feet, tails, ears, and so on will bring dramatic changes even for ‘non-furries’.

But the big shock is going to come when things that you rez on the land get a serious looking at – since those need to consider prim cost, and the prim cost of a mesh is set by its -SIZE- when rezzed.

The smaller you make it, the less prims it uses.

And that will cycle us right back into discussions about things for avatars: since mesh items worn on avatars -AUTO- scale up or down regardless of avatar scale – the need to be the size the item was made for now no longer exists (you just need to have the bust-waist-hips it was made for).

– And that too will go away if we either adopt some standards like this project, or Qarl’s code makes it in. Hopefully Qarl’s code will make it in.

But do get ready to make your avatar smaller… because pretty soon that’s going to be coming up as a hot topic again when this discovery of how size affects prim cost becomes more widespread. I predict lots of flame wars, a few accusations of ‘techno-communist-child-avatar-agendas’ and other irrational insanity… but once people realize they can wear all their mesh clothes on any size, many will likely just go with the size that lets them have the most prims on their land – not for the reasons of scale so often advocated in past, but simply so they can more fully fill up things like the space of a linden home.

Shop at Irie Vibes

Quicky cause its late for me, bed time. πŸ™‚

Just set up a shop at Irie Vibes, the popular Reggae club:
Zion Kitty @ Irie Vibes
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Irie%20Vibes/144/179/29
Noted it on my SL FEED as well.

Looks like I didn’t get the best screenshot there. I’ll have to make a better one and edit this. πŸ™‚

This is the first time I’ve done rental spots in SL, since coming to SL originally in 2006. Always owned land, never used malls, not even club malls, before now. But it seemed like a good idea for exposure.

They used to have signs at Irie Vibes talking about Reggae and Rastafarians – but no more. I’m going to have to make some and put them up in my shop here and on my own land… πŸ™‚

Updating my info for my shop in Bay City – Morton, one piece at a time

Outside my Shop in Bay City Morton
Piece by piece, I’ve put my shop together in Bay City – Morton.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bay%20City%20-%20Morton/28/113/25

Left my Zindra location a while ago. Bought the lot in Bay City even earlier, back in July or so. But failed to actually build the shop for it until early November… Yeah, I left a lot nearly empty for -that- long… well, not empty, but full of ‘Under Construction signs and boxes I’d rezzed for textures.

I had this idea of a broken down part of the hood for a shop, with ruins and junk outside, and products mixed around. But in the end I simplified down to a run down gas station, added some graffiti, and put a second ghetto building off to the side. Things which normally seem blighted, can have a certain appeal in the right context.

The gas station holds my builder products; sculpty maps, scripts, height meter, and some basic skins, alongside premade skyboxes. The ghetto-themed storefront building holds my Rastafarian art and fashion line. Some political art is on display on a wall outside, and some information boards along a wall between the two buildings.

Outside my Shop in Bay City Morton

TOnight I finally updated all the entries on Marketplace to point to the new shop, along with assorted Picks. I still need to do that horridly grueling task of putting new landmarks into every product… Something for tomorrow I guess… πŸ™‚

PS: Yes, the lot I had in Isabel, next to the infoHub, did sell. The new owner is still using my logo in About Land and the description / name still has my entry… πŸ™‚
Now I’m trying to clear out of half my lot in Honawan – my deep water boat rezzing land, I had a second parcel there for prims, on the hill, but ended up filling it with decorative stuff… Looked it over and realized my boat lot was big enough for my prim needs, so it’s time to lose the other spot:

Lot I need to sell in Honawan

I just can’t figure out what to sell it for… Only half want to get rid of it…

Note my neighbor next door selling their land, in 2 split 512s… The same neighbor owns the building in the background and the bus stop on the linden land across the road, I think. Or used to.

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