Thursday, 13 June 2013

Absent products

In part five of my 'Absent' series, I discard some obsolete products.

Mega prims

Oh how I cheered when the switch got flipped removing the ten metre limit on prim length (I think it was at about the same time that mesh got introduced).  I didn’t immediately optimise my skybox, but when I did I managed in the space of about an hour to reduce the prim count for the building shell by almost fifty per cent.  More to the point, I was able to ditch every last mega prim I’d used in my previous optimisation.  If I could have, I’d have lit a fucking great big fire and burned the lot of them in celebration.

Mega prims were a necessary evil if you wanted to build anything bigger than a garden shed and not have it suck dry the measly 117 prim allowance on your 512m plot.  Imagine a shoe box with the lid taped on and one of the long sides cut out and you pretty much have the shape of my skybox.  It measures now 32m by 16m and is 10m high.  To do this in old, ten metre restricted prims would cost a staggering twenty prims; today, it can be done in two.  Of course, to reduce this number, I originally built the skybox as 30m by 15m but that still cost me sixteen prims – and that’s before I got to the windows, let alone the furnishings.  With mega prims, I managed to reduce the sixteen to a very respectable five.  But not without pain.

I don’t understand how mega prims were made: through some sort of black SL art, I suspect, that involved naked dancing and incantations.  Or possibly a viewer bug which talented residents exploited for the brief period that it existed (you decide which is most appealing).  The thing with mega prims was that they only came in certain dimensions – dimensions which you couldn’t adjust (because the moment you attempted to do so they snapped instantly back to the ten metre limit) and dimensions which very rarely coincided with the actual size of prim that you wanted.  You only realised this, of course, after you’d trawled through the eye-bleedingly long list of mega prims in your inventory – twice, because you just couldn’t bring yourself to accept that your perfectly reasonable dimension needs could not be met.  Even the builder’s HUD I later obtained ended up making me want to stab myself: although it conveniently took size requests from the command line and searched for something that matched, it didn’t realise that a 15m x 30m x 0.5m prim was functionally the same as a 30m x 15m x 0.5m prim, making every ultimately unsuccessful search six commands long and a headache in trying to make sure you’d exhausted all the X, Y and Z combinations.  I’m an ungrateful bastard, I know; mega prims ultimately saved me a great deal of land impact prior to the ten metre limit removal, but Christ they were a pain.

Of course, mega prims are still around today: the ten metre limit might have been removed, but a sixty-four metre limit was then imposed and mega prims exist at sizes up to sixty-four thousand metres (that’s 256 whole sims lined up next to each other).  Thankfully, since it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to afford a land parcel that exceeds 64m in any direction, using these things again is a horror I will never have to contemplate. 

Flexi Jackets

In much the same way that I kind of like the way 1980s programmers became increasingly ingenious at getting more and more from the old eight bit computers, I have a certain affection for the ways in which clothes designers overcame the limitations of the old ‘painted-on’ shirts and jackets prior to the introduction of mesh.  As mesh continues its apparel assault, I imagine there must be designers now lamenting that their once clever tricks for adding hoods and collars and cuffs and rolled up sleeves and all manner of other bits in some way embellishing an avatar’s upper body (a single jacket could have 30+ prims in its folder) will soon become about as relevant as Ray Harryhausen’s amazing stop-motion modelling techniques are in the digital effects era.  Unless they sell in InWorldz, of course…

Well, their day isn’t over just yet.  Lots of this clothing still gets worn today because the best of it still looks pretty good.  I have a tuxedo, bought years ago from Blaze, that continues to look perfectly respectable.  Amazingly, this doesn’t even use that little prim flap to be found at the bottom of so many men’s jackets of what I propose become known now as the paint-prim hybrid (PPH) era.  The only prim garnish to be found on it anywhere is a little sculptie bow tie.  Awww.

Any jacket that employs those strips of flexi-prims in order to give them a ‘loose’ feel, however, may now become extinct.  Seriously; I really hope I never see another of these again.  Similarly, any jacket with one of those wrap-around cone-shaped prims to give it a wide flare at the bottom has my permission to die.  It looked great in the static picture you clicked on to buy it; as soon as you tried to move, however, it looked like you were wearing some sort of portable iron lung. 

Nobody especially likes deleting inventory, so dump all of this stuff in a special ‘retro’ folder and intend to wear it again for laughs at the 2023 SL reunion.  Of course, by then we’ll all be wearing the rigged mesh version of ‘Ruth’ and commenting on how perfect the emulation is.  Ah, the irony.

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