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!