Not perfectly meshing

flexRegulars will know that I tend to have a bit of a love-hate relationship with mesh. Much as I’ve tried to embrace it as the next best thing, I’m still a long way off from seeing mesh as the ultimate solution to all our inworld needs.

Those who are somewhat newer to our virtual world may not have been around in the pre-mesh days, and might not therefore appreciate the huge leap forward it was to us, yet – for me – mesh has never quite come into its own. It isn’t that I don’t like mesh – quite the contrary, in fact – I think it’s great for many, many reasons. The level of detail and realism possible using mesh is indisputable, and the resource savings possible from employing well-crafted mesh objects are fab; even so mesh isn’t without its limitations.

First and foremost, there’s the horribly steep learning curve required to even begin to attempt to model with mesh. Whereas pretty much anyone can teach themselves to build inworld using prims in an evening, mesh is another matter entirely – and, unlike prim building – it’s not enough to simply master the basics: Badly designed and rigged mesh can not only misbehave, it can be far more resource-sapping than the most amateurish prim build: Case in point – the simple cushion I created in mesh this week that would have had an LI of 148, if I’d uploaded it inworld! There are, of course, half-way prim to mesh solutions that many swear by… great for reducing Land Impact, but not a lot of use if you want organic realism or real functionality.

Even if we put aside creating meshes – employing them isn’t the happy utopia we all imagined it to be. Throw up a mesh building inworld, and you can bask in the knowledge that your LI will barely be affected, however just nudge the size up by a metre or two, and suddenly your LI is sky high! Do the same with prims or sculpts, and nothing changes. That isn’t to say I dislike mesh buildings – in many ways, I think they kick prim butt! Even so, they’re by no means perfect.

I’ve spoken at length previously about mesh body parts and, whilst they have their place, they’re not my thing and – with all the HUDs, Appliers and bespoke paraphernalia that’s started flooding the market, for an old fashioned type like me, life has become needlessly and annoyingly complicated. Even buying shoes has become a chore – there have been a number of times I’ve blown my hard-earned cash recently on shoes I can’t wear, because the creator HASN’T BOTHERED TO LABEL THEY’RE FOR SLINK FEET, (hint, hint)!

How about other clothing items? Here again my feelings are somewhat mixed. You have to love the level of realism and intricacy that mesh endows to even the plainest of outfits, but I also happen to hate pleats that never crinkle, wrinkles that stay put in any circumstances, skirts that become elastic around the knees, dodgy alphas, gaps and holes, invisible crotches, and – worst of all – a complete lack of movement, realistic or otherwise. I want a skirt that swooshes, not something that’s as rigid as uPVC!

And here, I’d argue, lies the biggest limitation of mesh – there just ain’t no flex!

It just feels to me like a retrograde step to go from flexi-prims to inflexi-mesh. And, whilst skirts that pass through your thighs as if they weren’t there, glitch pants and super-swishy wisps of clothing are by no means ideal or desirable, they do have that one elusive quality that mesh doesn’t – movement that obeys at least some of the laws of inworld physics. The same goes for hair: I’m happy to put up with hair that flops through my shoulders, far more than hair that appears to have been conditioned with glue!

Mesh – in most cases – undeniably looks better, but I think that’s its downfall – it looks too good and too real, and when something looks that realistic our minds expect it to behave realistically too. When it doesn’t, we’re in serious uncanny valley territory, and it feels distinctly uncomfortable to me. Give me flowing, flexi, fripperies and I’m happy – they may not look as real, but that doesn’t matter because they behave as I expect them to… I’m an avatar, not a Barbie doll.


So I’m still not sold on mesh, even though I like it a lot. I think prims and sculpts still have their place and – in some circumstances – can even do better than mesh when it comes to making SL feel real. Perhaps I might change my mind if flexi-mesh was to burst on the scene… but then again, I can be an awkward sod, so probably not!

s. x

It’s the way that we build-ity
Sharing a soliloquy
We cut the broken thread from flexibility
Massive Attack – Blue Lines

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6 Responses to Not perfectly meshing

  1. Paypabak Writer says:

    Worse than non-swishy skirts is the frozen hair. No question, the good designers have made mesh hair look fabulous but with no movement it is very disappointing when so many great pre-mesh offerings gave us lively movement.

    • It’s such a shame – I love some of the styles available in mesh, but it looks and feels like wearing plastic… almost a throwback to system hair. Having said that, I’ve a couple of styles combining mesh and flexi, which work very well, so there’s hope yet, but as for skirts…

      s. x

  2. Ever Afterr says:

    Serenity, you just gave me the feels with everything you said (I couldn’t agree with you more), and you even gave a nod to Massive Attack. I adore you already! ^_^

    I just came back to SL this year after a long hiatus, discovered my inventory was wildly out of date in a “what is this ‘mesh’ you speak of?” kind of way, and ultimately felt completely out of sorts. I’m starting over on a new account to get a fresh perspective and hopefully rediscover what I loved about SL almost a decade ago. Finding cute, cheap clothing and accessories will be easy-peasy, but I know it will virtually all be mesh, and that bums me out. I love system layer clothing! Flexi skirts and hairstyles were my jam! Change is good, and evolution is inevitable, but there will definitely be some things I’ll miss about ye SL of olde.

    • 😀

      I wouldn’t go on a total inventory purge just yet – a huge proportion of mine would be considered old hat now, but there’s really nothing wrong with it, and there are some things I could never throw away. Many of my favourite styles – hair and clothing – can’t be replaced… stores have closed for ever and designers have left – there’s no way I’d dump them just because they’re old fashioned!

      As for shoes, grab yourself a set of shoe masks – and
      use them to replace the old invisiprims and your old shoes are as good as new!

      I’m not convinced we’ll ever see mesh completely take over – and I know that’s an unfashionable stance to take – but for me it simply lacks that essential element of realism that makes all the difference.


      • PS – I like the blog… Friendly and informative! I’m looking forward to seeing how your new SLife unfolds.

        s. x

        • Ever Afterr says:

          Thank you kindly! ^_^ I’ll very likely be reading yours from back-to-front very soon (love to do that whenever I find a thought-provoking Second Life blog), and looking forward to reading all your thoughts. So awesome to find someone who’s been blogging about SL consistently for many years!

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