Approaching Nirvana – Auto Alpha from Maitreya

As promised in my previous post, this is a more detailed description / ‘how to’ on setting up the automatic alpha system from Maitreya on your Lara mesh body.  Maitreya call their system “AutoHide”,  so I’ll call it that from now on.

Now – I am already aware that Daria is discussing Auto Hide on her excellent blog over at mesh body addicts, so please go and check that too – I think more than one take on these things is a great approach, and Daria is providing some great resources relating to mesh bodies in general, so it is well worth checking out.

I will focus a bit more on managing the method of applying the alpha – some mechanics and scripting suggestions.


What is Auto Hide?


Maitreya have provided a script that sends alpha information to the Lara body, bypassing the HUD, or the need to manually set each alpha slice using the HUD. If your mesh or prim clothing item is modifiable, you can add the script right in the clothing itself.

With the script available, and after providing a configuration notecard (which I will describe shortly), your clothing item is now able to tell the body which alpha slices to turn on. The alpha information is sent as soon as the item is attached to your body, so it is very fast.

If your clothing item is non-mod – meaning you cannot change it or add scripts to it (and this is more common) then you can add the script to a separate prim that you can wear – either as a part of your outfit, or as a HUD on your viewer – either works fine.

You could be quite creative with the outfit approach – for example, by adding a prim flower, a jewellery item, a bow or some other object that both adds to the outfit, and has permissions to allow you to add the script.

The kit Maitreya have provided is available to clothing makers, so we can expect (I hope!) clothes from many makers to come with an AutoHide scripted addition that accepts a notecard, and would hopefully come with an existing notecard to help you with any modifications you wanted to make on your own.

Maitreya have already provided a number of clothing items with AutoHide built-in, available now by using redelivery if you already owned them, or for purchase in-store with the script already included.


An AutoHide Configuration


Lets look at that notecard holding the configuration.  It does seem a little unwieldy having to use a notecard, and I have already had to consider how to manage these in my inventory.  Here are the issues I have encountered so far.

  • The notecard needs to be stored somewhere if you ever want to alter the alpha settings, otherwise you need to start from scratch because the AutoHide script eats the notecard you add to the clothing or prim. Fortunately the notecard can have any name you like, so naming your notecards the same as your outfit name and keeping them all in one folder is an acceptable solution.
  • Setting the notecard information is painful. It gets easier with practice, but really – its a pain. Maitreya have addressed this with some great and imaginative helpers – there is an applier in the AutoHide kit that will write the names of all the alpha segments right on your body, helping you identify them against the lines in the notecard. And the notecard includes descriptive words for each alpha section, to help you work things out. My wish list includes a button on the Maitreya HUD that will dump an alpha configuration to chat, so we can copy that and paste it into a notecard. Let us hope this is in development right now.

ok,  this is what the configuration looks like – I made this one for my  *LpD* – *Angela* Dress.   As you would expect, most of the alpha segments can be left turned off (skin is visible) which is represented by a ‘0’ in the note card.  The ‘1’s’ in each case are segments of alpha to be made transparent.

11111000 Belly (BE)
00000000 Upper Back (U.BACK)
00000000 Chest (CH)
00000000 Left Breast (LB)
00000000 Right Breast (RB)
00000000 Arm Left (ARM) (written backwards)
00000000 Arm Right (ARM)
111000 Lower Back (L.BACK)
011111 Groin (GR)
11111111 Bum (BUM)
00000000 Upper Left Leg (UL-A) – outer front
00000000 Upper Left Leg (UL-B) – inner front
00000001 Upper Left Leg (UL-C) – inner back
00000001 Upper Left Leg (UL-D) – outer back
00000000 Upper Right Leg (UR-A) – outer front
00000000 Upper Right Leg (UR-B)- inner front
00000001 Upper Right Leg (UR-C) – inner back
00000001 Upper Right Leg (UR-D) – outer back
00000000 Lower Left Leg (LL-A) – outer front
00000000 Lower Left Leg (LL-B) – inner front
00000000 Lower Left Leg (LL-C) – inner back
00000000 Lower Left Leg (LL-D) – outer back
00000000 Lower Right Leg (LR-A) – outer front
00000000 Lower Right Leg (LR-B) – inner front
00000000 Lower Right Leg (LR-C) – inner back
00000000 Lower Right Leg (LR-D) – outer back
00 left nipple (LN)
00 right nipple (RN)
0 neck

The above configuration will ‘turn on’  (make transparent) the elements represented by 1’s.  I wanted to let you see how that relates to the actual pattern of segments on the body, so in the picture below I have reversed the configuration so that it only shows the parts that will become transparent in the final version.  Please note, this was for information only – you do not need to ever do this. Keep in mind that this is only the rear-view ;p  the other half of the configuration is hidden here, however I show that later.AutoHide -


In this picture I have applied the alpha pattern, and you can see the relationship of the HUD slice to the section of the body with its name shown using the applier from the AutoHide kit. I have drawn some red lines to point out the connection between HUD slices and body segments, although of course you are familiar with these from setting them every time you change outfits.

AutoHide -


Adding the Configuration to the Clothing item, Prim or HUD.


This step is quite straight forward, and is performed as follows (minor building skills are required).

  • Edit the item to which you want to add the AutoHide – this can be your full perm clothing item, a prim accessory or a HUD. To edit the item, Rez it on the ground and then right click and choose ‘Edit’  from the pie menu.
  • In the edit window, you will see the top quarter is occupied by options such as move or stretch.  You can ignore these. Just below that there is a row of tabs, “General, Object, Features, Texture, Content”.  Click on Content – this is where scripts and other contents can be added to the object. (see the left side of the image below).
  • From your inventory, you need to drag the AutoHide script supplied by Maitreya, and the AutoHide configuration notecard that you have created, over into the Content tab of your object. The script is called “Maitreya AutoHide BodyFaces V2.03″ and you should add it to the object first, and only then add the notecard.
  • Within a few seconds you will see the configuration notecard disappear from the Content tab, and you will receive a chat message from your object telling you that it has completed reading the configuration.
  • You can now take (right click on the object and ‘take’) your object back into your inventory.
  • Rinse and repeat!  I found it can take a few tries to get it right.  If you are like me you will make the odd mistake, or just miscalculate which parts to hide. When you have edited your notecard, you can rez your object, open Content, and just drag a new notecard into it – everything else stays as it was. Just be careful – because your object (if it is copy permission) will be duplicated and cause confusion!  I am deleting the objects in my inventory just before taking them back, so there is only ever one for a particular item of clothing at a time, but whatever system you use, you need to be able to identify which object has the correct notecard in it.

I have shown a picture below – this is what the process will look like on Firestorm.

Dragging the configuration card to the HUD contents

AutoHide - Script and config


A word on AutoHide using a  HUD


I felt that with so many items of clothing not having edit permission, I wanted to come up with an approach to easily loading my AutoHide settings. I could have just made an invisible prim and attached it somewhere, however I worried that it might end up staying there..  if I forget to detach it it will become a useless scripted attachment. It is useless because the alpha information is only sent once, and only when you attach the object. So leaving a prim sitting on your shoulder for no benefit is pointless, and at worst adds a script to your avie.

So I decided to use a simple HUD with no controls on it. The issue still existed though – if each time I wear an outfit, I wear a HUD,  will I end up with all these little AutoHide HUDS on my viewer screen – and again, they would serve no function because they have already done their work.

So I wrote a tiny script – it is trivial – to just wait a couple of seconds after the HUD attaches, and then politely detaches itself back to my inventory.  Also,  just so that I can be sure I am loading the correct HUD, for example when wearing an outfit,  I have set the HUD to display its name. Since I name my AutoHide HUDs the same as my clothing, that lets me check that the correct HUD is loading.

I have let the duration of the “falling off” time be variable – it is easy to edit that, and I have also let the colour of the text be set easily in the top of the script.

I made my HUD quite small – in the picture below you can see it loading as a red rectangle about half way down the left side of my viewer. I have labeled it for you to make it easier to see.  It only lasts 2 seconds – I gave one to Fiona to try out and it took her a few tries to see it, as its quite quick to unload.

Wear the HUD with the AutoHide script

AutoHide -


So – finally,  I can wear the dress and its AutoHide and it will automatically set my alpha segments as I have configured them.

AutoHide -


Final Word!


AutoHide is the missing piece in the mesh body jigsaw in my opinion – it brings to mesh body wearers the same ability to wear an alpha layer tailored to an outfit that we have enjoyed in classic avatars since the introduction of mesh clothing.

However, like the process for editing those older alpha layers, the AutoHide alpha settings require a very manual process to create them. The editor of choice for creating an alpha segment pattern is of course, the alpha editor provided in the body HUD.

Lets hope that the next few updates from Maitreya deliver that editor to us with an “AutoHide Export” button that writes the AutoHide configuration out to chat, where we can copy it and paste it into a notecard.  But that tiny niggle aside, I think Maitreya have delivered us a huge new capability, and set we Lara wearers ahead of the current pack of mesh body wearers.

Thanks Maitreya!

Hugs,

Whims xx


PS – Anyone interested in my little Hud fall off script (or a HUD with that installed) please just contact me in-world, I’ll be happy to pass one along.

On vulnerability

Whims showed me this inspiring ted talk:

I tried to put vulnerability in the context of SL.

I think that in SL we have the possibility to either enhance or tone down our vulnerable sides in the virtual world. We can choose to build up a picture of ourselves as the perfect Barbie or Ken. We can play with status and success. We can create an avatar of perfect beauty, we can build up a picture of luxury and wealth fairly easy. SL can be a place where we compensate for a life we are not satisfied with. If we are socially shy we can try out another persona that is more forward and outgoing. If we are unemployed we can role-play that we have a fabulous business going on. We can of course also present ourselves in the profile text as the person we would like to be.

BUT there are also possibilities for strong connections. True, deep connections. We can dare more. We can open up to strangers, telling things about our deepest selves that no one even in our RL knows about.

How do you use your SL in the context of vulnerability as is discussed in the clip above? Is SL a place were you open up to people and show your true self or is it a dream world where you can be that perfect self you try so hard to be in your RL, but constantly fail to pull off?

I am reading Brené Browns book “Daring greatly” now. It gives me lot to think about. One interesting thought is how we live in a culture of scarcity. Scarcity meaning there is never enough. We are not thin enough, brave enough, clever enough, beautiful enough etc. The author talks about how difficult it is to have a good life when so many of us wake up in the morning thinking “oh I didn’t have enough sleep and now I haven’t enough time to do this or that”.

One can think about in the context of SL too. There is always a risk that SL becomes so addictive and alluring in terms or perfection that we compare our real lives with it and diminish our real selves even more. SL is very seductive in that way. Sometimes I need to remind myself about those shitty days in SL when I am standing at my home and feel like speaking to none of my friends. Or none of my friends that I want to speak to are online! SL can be inclusive and a feast, but it can also awake strong feelings of disconnection and loneliness depending on situation.

I’d love to hear what you have to say in the matter!

Hugs/Fiona

Dress code in SL

The other day I was confronted with a view about SL dress code that I’ve never really experienced before. I was playing at a club where I have played before. It’s a bar and I’ve always felt a sort of relaxed and friendly feeling about it. I was tp:ing in friends and acquaintances from here and there, starting to enjoying myself when suddenly a word exchange of rather harsh nature told me that the owner of the sim had been telling a couple of guys (one of the from my friendlist) in IM:s that they couldn’t dance there in their jeans. They had to adjust to the dress code. The guys refused, not surprisingly, and suddenly the owner of the sim had ejected them.

 

I felt my partymood sinking down to the level of my boot ruffles and the more I thought about it, the more furious I got. Ejecting is for me something you only do when someone is obviously rude to people or griefing the sim. The situation was also that I have been inviting people from my friendslist and their friends to this sim for a couple of times and I thought in my naivety that the clubowner would be quite happy to have a few people there. We have never really crashed the sim with too many people there…

 

When I confronted the clubowner asking why it was so important to keep the dresscode the only answer I got was “It’s my rules”. The answer wasn’t in any way enough for me. So I declared how disappointed I was in local chat, stopped playing and left the club.

 

This situation held so many interesting issues about how we conduct ourselves in SL so I had to give it more thoughts. Here are some of them:

 

What ejection signals

I believe ejecting is a measure to use only as a very selective instrument for moments when people are rude. If they behave, you must accept that people have taken lots of effort creating avatars looking like they do for a reason!

I am sure that people with a more visual mind than me appreciate the beauty of a harmonising view at their club and I understand if you want a certain “style” of your property, but do you really want to get the reputation of being exclusive and throwing people out when they don’t fit exactly to your dream?

Isn’t it beautiful when you run a club that people of all sorts come to seek out your place? What signals will ejecting people give to the audience? And what makes dresscode so important that you can risk a party for the sake of it?

If you want to have a dresscode, then you need to advertise it very clearly when people arrive, and you have to understand that not all people come for the sake of your club. Some come from random tp:s from friends and may well miss the codes. To be told when you already are at a dancefloor that you have the wrong sort of appearance is an insult. And being patronised in local chat about refusing to change will never make it any better! Perhaps it’s better to tell your visitors that they can remember the dresscode next time please, and let go of your strong principals for the sake of people’s comfort.

 

 

Adjustment versus personal expression

I think the world, including SL, can more or less be divided in two sorts of people. People that feel more comfortable with rules about how to dress in a certain place and people that think their own way to express themselves are more important than rules and adjustment.

 

I belong, not surprisingly, to the second half… I have always found it difficult to adapt to rules concerning my own persona and how I should look. I don’t need to look extremely pretty, BUT, I need to feel comfortable! I am not a big user of makeup and I don’t care too much about fashion, but I want to look like ME. So yes, I avoid certain places in RL where dress codes are announced because I don’t feel welcome there and not at all comfortable. It’s my choice.

 

In SL however I like to try out new looks and go to places like ballrooms for the fun and laugh of it. I can easily look splendid here and I enjoy it very much. But even here I sometimes just can’t bother to be dressed up. Some people here put tremendous efforts in to looking special and magnificent. I love the diversity and creativity whenever I see it! For me it’s fantastic that I can dance with a furry, a robot and a dragon in the same dancefloor. It makes me happy! And it doesn’t spoil the image of being in a dodgy blues club, a classy bar or a ballroom floor!

Snapshot_001

Role-play and emersion

A Role-play sim on the other hand is something different for me. Here people gather that are interested in acting out a special kind of place. They want to imagine a story together set in a special setting, be it medieval or space. The dresscode is part of a bigger thing and has a special meaning. Some sims has the possibility for visitors to walk around with OOC-signs so the roleplayers can just ignore them. These are very clever arrangements that helps people not to compromise each other.

Role PLay Costume

Nudity

Nudity has a certain meaning for us humans. Getting naked is something that causes emotions of some kind. I love the liberty of being able to strip off without embarrassment in SL and I do it when I feel like it. I can understand the need of having special sims where you can be nude and others where you don’t since it can embarrass people or make them feel awkward. I will not go in to detail on this, but I am happy that there are a few places where you can choose nudity or not! Enforced nudity feels like another restriction for me, but I can still understand it because of the strong emotions it evokes on some people.

blonde moments_005

 


 

I think these questions are important to address and discuss every now and then and I would of course love to hear your opinions.

What does ejection mean to you? If you got ejected from a place, how did that make you feel?

How do you feel about dress codes? Are they a help or a nuisance? Does different dress codes mean different things in different places to you too?

Much love and peace out brothers and sisters! Yours truly/Fiona