Friday, March 28, 2008

Back to Bitstrips :)

The character on the right is Mrs Peterman, equestrienne extraordinare in RL, and now a convert to the Bitstrip sillyness :) (go read hers, if you haven't already!)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Version 2.4 Release Notes

I DID tell everyone I was working on horses, and not just making Bitstrips :P

The 2.4 update should be automatically delivered if you rez your older horse. I have been beta testing it for about two weeks now, and honestly believe I've got all the various weird things that SL throws at one taken care of. The old "lock up" glitch would would sometimes happen if SL crashed has been eliminated, as have some of the transient "permission not granted" error messages you would get if you detached and reattached the horse quickly (basically, SL didn't always immediately recognize that it had granted permission--I ended up "asking" it three times before animating the horse).

I hope you like the changes I've made (if you don't, let me know!). I really want to thank you all for your your patronage and suggestions, many of which made it into this upgrade. Those of you who wrote to tell me how much you liked the horses REALLY make my day--I have loved being able to create these and share them with you.

Well, with no further ado, here are the changes--

Leg Animations--I doubled the frame rate, and hopefully things should be MUCH smoother. Without getting into technicalities, the sim impact is actually less now, even though I sped the animation up

Jump Animation--smoother, and is now the full jump depicted in the Muybridge animal motion studies. The horse also now prepares to land by tucking his rear legs and extending his forelegs (the prelanding anim is only for the ground, I'm afraid as sensing when a prim was approaching created too much lag).

Gallop Boost--In Gallop mode, there is a little extra boost making the gallop faster than the trot. You can toggle this off and on if you like by going to gait>boost

Prance Mode--In this mode (reached through pose mode), the horse will move its legs continuously using the gait of your choice, even when standing still. It might be useful if you feel like simulating dressage :) It's also an easy way to watch your horse's leg animations.

Key capture reliability--I eliminated the horse's most of the horse's dependence on Linden Lab animations, meaning that the horse now responds faster to key inputs.

Global Reset--"Reset Script" now resets all scripts in the horse (such as the leg scripts and the ear twitch scripts), not just the main scripts.

Hard Crash protection--hard crashes in which the horse needed to be manually reset should be greatly reduced (I'd say eliminated, but SL never fails to surprise me).

Various glitches--The spurious script error when rezzing a horse on the ground to work on it has been eliminated. If you crash in pose or saddled mode, the horse reverts to regular mode when you start SL again.

Dual Rider improvement--The Dual Rider should no longer tilt (unless you are going up an embankment, for example). The Rider with the sidesaddle horses now defaults to the sidesaddle posture (you can still select English if you like).

Sidesaddle Pommel- is now a sculpt (I had to make it slightly lower than actual ones, as otherwise it stuck through the skirt mesh) BIG thanks to Miss CoyoteAngel Dimsum who created that for me.

That's it for now! Next projects include a sculpted centaur avatar and a Shire Horse (BIG pony :)). I'm working with the Armour Store for barding for said Shire (that's horse armour) for those medieval sorts out there.

Happy Trails!

Miss Virrginia Tombola
Equestrienne and Proprietress
La Bicyclette

No, Really, I'm Working on Horses

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And Another....

Well, I do believe that I've discovered my timewaster of the week :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reality Sets In

Well, far be it for me to ignore an internet meme, no matter how silly (oh, let us be honest, the sillier the better). The latest seems to be comic strips based upon the happenings in our virtual reality. As always, any resemblance to any blog owner living or dead is...

Oh, just read the foolish thing ;)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pudgy Ponies

Well, I've always been partial to the slim, not scary looking riding horses. But I've had more than a few requests for bigger horses, particularly from the set who wish to ride into battle with the thankfully virtual slings and arrows of outrageous avatars buzzing about their ears.

Well, Mrs. Wind mentioned shire horses, so it was time to dive into the horse books again:

Allow me to emphasize that this is very much a draft draught horsie! As you can see, the textures need a bit of cleaning up, and I have yet to model all the various leg positions. I probably will change the textured eyes into prim eyes to allow for blinking, as well. But I'm pleased enough with it as a start, and at 15 prims, I may sell copies of this for people who don't have the necessary 80 odd prims for the other static horses.

And I have to admit, despite my love for friendly looking dappled greys, despite their size, Shires really do have the sweetest snuzzles :D

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Animation Demonstration

Well, here are the preliminary new gaits for the horses. I apologize for the sound quality--somehow in the upload process the soundtrack went askew with the video. Not quite sure why, as the AVI file I have is all nice and properly synched.

Edit: I uploaded to YouTube, and it works better now. I really like the WeGame community, but they are still ironing out a few glitches (mind you, it is completely free, so one cannot complain too much)

As you can see, I'm using the new "Prance" option, which allows one to have the horse continue to move its legs regardless of your avatar's position. Frankly, it was useful for me in the process of finetuning the animations, so I simply left it. I'm not QUITE sure how useful it may be in reality, unless one wishes to have SL dressage competitions.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Well, Now Time For the Upcoming Horse Update

I was very pleased with the new horse scripts when I finished stapling the last line of code to the bottom of the script back in January (was it really only two months ago?). I truly believe that at the time, the horses provided the most realistic animations in Second Life, all bundled up in a user friendly package with cute snuzzles.

But at the same time, I don't have so many laurels as to make for a comfy seat. And I've disliked the 0.4 sec timer rate for animations I had to work with. So, I cracked open the script again, and made some modifications Her Grace Kamileh Hauptmann suggested. Put simply, in general, I cut the number of function "calls" down significantly. I ran the new horse in an empty sim, and even with a timer set at twice the speed, the sim load is actually LESS than it was before!

Armed with this, as well as a pack of prim conserving sculpts, I went to work pursuing the Holy Muybridge Grail of animation.

Who is Muybridge? If you've ever wanted to create an animation of a horse, you've heard of him, if not, probably not. In short, he was a pioneer in stop motion photography, who did the first serious studies of animals in motion in 1878. If you've been to the Carriage House in Eyre, the movie of the galloping horse I have on display there is from his work.

Twenty four frames of a horse walking was still a bit too much, but by judicious interpolation, as well as some "fool the eye" tricks Ms. Vicki Christensen of Second Frame Animation told me about, I was able to create a fair believable walking animation at 4-5 fps. The trot and the canter/gallop finally look as energetic as the horse ought to be. In short, it's a far cry from a mere "up/down" leg animations, or even the current animations I use for my horses (which can look a bit like an old fashioned movie at times, I admit)

My only real concern is whether it will look good in all situations (specifically, I need check to ensure it is lag robust). I will therefore be holding off release for about a week, as I ride my new horsies about everywhere. Then it will be out to the public. If any of you out there who own a horse already would like to help with the "beta testing" of this, please do let me know!

Upcoming Products, Hurrah!

This is one of those sadly self congratulatory posts, but despite what appearances may seem, I haven't actually been spending ALL my time lounging about making WeGame videos and playing Space Pirate :) I've actually been working on a number of projects which will hopefully see fruition this week.

First things first, if ANYONE is having trouble at all with my old style one prim vendors, please, please let me know. I've been unsuccessfully trying to get my unscripted vendors in Eyre to work, and in one case I know of, money was taken and no product given. The main, larger vendors (the multi items) are working just fine, so that at least was some relief. However, the ones that relied on the prim setting of "Sell contents" have completely "borked".

Needless to say, I will be getting rid of the old vendors and replacing them with Hippotech Vendors, which rely on an offline server to dispense products, and thus are about as reliable as anything in SL ever is. I tried to update them today, but I'm on the road and a hotel connexion combined with my rodent powered little laptop moved me into redmap zone. It is the first thing on my list of "to dos" tomorrow.

Now for happier news. I've made a few more horses. The Nightmare that was featured in the below video is now for sale, and I've also made a sidesaddle version of same. The sidesaddle is not in a vendor yet (see earlier paragraph :/), but if you'd like one, do give me a shout.

I also created my first Cheval Verite flexible maned horses, the English and Sidesaddle Greys with Black stockings. I rather like them, shaggy little beasts that they are. I had to fiddle a bit with the manes to get them to both look realistic and provide flex. I've never been that satisfied with the look of the flex manes of Second Life horses (I include my old line here, lest you think I am fling stones!). They're all well and good for a "fantasy" look, but looked out of place on photorealistic sculpts. So for these, I made the manes more unruly than the other horses, and used a mix of regular and flexi prims. the overall effect makes them look in need of a good grooming, but I think it works with Greys.

I am also completely reworking the centaurs. Based on inputs from customers, I'm releasing these as a "right click/wear" avatar. In other words, the shapes, skins, hair and animations are tailored for that avatar. I don't mind fiddling, but I've discovered that the average customer out there is uninterested in fussing with prim modification. For those of you who DO enjoy that sort of thing, rest assured that these will be full mod, so you can freely alter your favourite shape to be the human half, tint the centaur body, wear another skin, etc.

The new centaurs are based on the sculpted roan body (with some significant modifications :)), but if they become popular, I'll probably release them in other colours as well. They also will include a centaur Dual Rider, which will allow for friends to ride their centaur friend.

I've also got some rather exciting news regarding the CURRENT horses (or rather, the upcoming updates for them). But that shall need wait for the next missive.....