I like to think that I’m pretty much clued up when it comes to all things SL, so I’m a little put out to find that on this particular occasion my finger has quite definitely not been on the pulse – I’m not altogether sure where exactly it has been instead, but rest assured I shall be having stern words with the offending digit in due course.
Those in the know will already be aware that all the virtual talk at the moment is taking place around Linden Lab’s latest offering inworld – currently in beta testing on Aditi – ‘animesh’ – literally, animated mesh.
To my profound embarrassment, my initial appraisal of the potential of animesh was ever so slightly short-sighted. I can only suggest that my brain has been rather tired just lately, leading to a less than astute reasoning capability and a shortfall in the far-sightedness department. There will, I’m afraid, be repercussions as a result, and a number of brain cells will be called to account at their next performance review, with an expectation that a significant improvement is required in the future, should they wish to retain their jobs!
You see, when I first came across the murmurings about animesh, my initial thoughts were, frankly, pretty dismissive. Suffice it to say that I was thinking along the lines of flexiprims for the modern age… Grass and trees that blow in the wind, swishy hair, you know the kind of thing. All fairly limited applications that, if I’m honest, didn’t really impress me all that much, so it’s fair to say I was pretty dismissive of the whole thing and filed it away in the corner of my brain reserved for SL innovations that aren’t necessarily bad but will never rock my world.
Then I saw, creator of the awesome bento elephant avatar, Medhue Simoni’s video showcasing what’s going down in animesh world.
That’s when I realised just how far off the mark my thinking had been, and if you’re lagging behind in the ‘what’s happening in SL’ stakes, I suggest you take look at the video too. (Too long? Try watching from 7 minutes in – yep those really aren’t avatars but animated objects – even dancing Putin and Trump!).
It only takes a little imagination to put together animesh, bento, scripting and pathfinding to come up with a potential gamechanger, and something that I think could be one of the most exciting developments we’ve seen in SL in recent years. Animesh gives us the potential for realistic, interactive NPCs (Non-Player Characters), far beyond anything currently available to creators and could revolutionise the inworld experience. Just imagine NPCs almost indistinguishable from real avatars, animals and other non-human objects that exhibit realistic and fluid behaviours and movement, even whole dance troupes of Putins showing off their Riverdance moves! And that’s not even considering the possibilities that animesh bots could offer for rumpy pumpy and naughtiness!
I can picture a future SL where cities that now stand folorn and empty are populated by ‘people’ going about their everyday business and giving a believable illusion of reality that goes far beyond anything we currently have… And all without a huge increase in lag. It seems almost unreal, yet having seen what is possible already in beta, I can’t help thinking that this really could be the Next Big Thing to bring SL back into contention as the virtual world of choice when the likes of Sansar and High Fidelity finally come into their own, and I think, if SL play their cards right, it’s a surefire winner.
It’s not often these days that I get truly excited about new developments in SL – I’m more used to seeing a steady and sure, but often painfully slow, overall improvement; this however could be a quantum leap for SL, and one that I think is badly needed even though I never saw it coming!
I can’t wait to see what animesh will do when it hits the main Grid – I think that it will bring a lot of surprises.
Although, hopefully, not as big a surprise as not seeing the damn thing coming in the first place!
Freaky deaky, star speckles and pink butterflies
And life is nice, so nice
I walk into a club and I found paradise
I’m seein stars, I can’t believe my eyes
I’m seeing stars
Paul Oakenfold – Starry Eyed Surprise