YAY! Normal maps!
LL has just announced that they’ll soon be introducing support for normal and specularity mapping. This is really, really, really, big news! There’s already some great blog write-ups on what these are and what they can do by Nalates Urriah and Inara Pey. (Go read them! I’ll wait.) Hey! What was that sound? That was the sound of hundreds of mesh content creators coming to a screeching halt as they wait for these features to be rolled out! Which is a good thing… their content is gonna look even more awesome now.
The big question for me is how and when OpenSimulator will get the materials feature.
On the server side… probably nobody knows yet. I’m guessing it won’t take too very long, but OpenSim developers will need to wait to see how LL is implementing this on their end before taking any action. OpenSim had mesh support almost immediately after LL’s initial mesh implementation hit their beta grid. Hopefully we’ll see similar interest and action taken by one or more OpenSim devs.
On the viewer side, we’re faced with the little problem of the Havok sub-license. LL’s official viewer is no longer able to login to OpenSim, and the Exodus viewer, which is in charge of the viewer side implementation of the material system, has just signed onto the Havok sub-license, making it also unable to login to OpenSim. What I’m hoping is that this will be a non-issue, and other viewers like Zen or Teapot often pick up the necessary code for features like this very quickly. Once these or other viewers do so, users on OpenSim based environments will be able to create better looking and more efficient content.
Quite recently, people have started to notice that the development and beta builds have removed the command line option -loginuri. This is a pretty important and useful option. It allows a viewer that lacks a comprehensive grid manager to login to any grid or simulator they choose. It’s also useful for things like using a proxy with the viewer. Projects that try to make SL more useful for the visually impaired, for example, might make use of a proxy between the viewer and grid.
So the big question is, is this by design or by accident? Nebadon Izumi of OSgrid went straight to Oz Linden to find out, and gave me permission to share some of the conversation here.
[10:07] <nebadon> OzLinden : ping
[10:09] <OzLinden> pong
[10:10] <nebadon> are you guys really removing -loginURI support from the viewer?
[10:10] <nebadon> or is that just a mistake?
[10:10] <nebadon> cause latest Dev and Beta viewers get an error if you try to use it
[10:11] <OzLinden> that was deliberate, but there is a related bug that I'm working on now
[10:12] <nebadon> ok so it will eventually be back?
[10:12] <OzLinden> no, I don't believe so
[10:12] <nebadon> why is it being removed?
[10:13] <OzLinden> part of cleaning up grid handling - it really doesn't serve much useful purpose
[10:13] <nebadon> sure it does
[10:13] <nebadon> it lets us connect to opensim
[10:14] <nebadon> this essentially kills all support for OpenSim
[10:14] <OzLinden> which our Havok license does not allow
That seems pretty clear. Oz says it’s gone for good, that there’s no good reason to keep it around, and that having Havok client side trumps the open-source utility of the viewer. If you disagree, do let LL and Oz Linden know how you feel.