The Equine Update

Long time no… post.
I’ve been off the old G+ for about three weeks now I guess.
Actually, I just checked and my last CG/Blender related post was April 13th so, yeah, about three weeks.

The primary reason is that circumstances conspired to make me get off my arse and actually finish a project.

Some time ago, the missus and I started working on an avatar for Second Life. We’d done dozens of different avatars before but this one was a bit special (not that the others weren’t special, but you know what I mean).

First, a bit of background. For those not in the know, I am the one they call Snow Cone in Second Life (henceforth SL). I’ve been pootling around in that particular cesspool environment for what seems like forever. It’s a lot of fun at times, and curiously useful for bashing out functional prototypes of actual real world systems which I find delightful.
There’s loads wrong with it. It’s constraining in ways that make no sense, the scripting language is hacky and held together with bits of string and rubber bands, it only recently(ish) started supporting arbitrary mesh upload, and it only *very* recently started supporting normal/bump maps.

Thinking back, aside from the odds and ends I’d used it for previously, I only really got serious about using Blender because of the implications of arbitrary mesh in SL.
Prior to mesh uploads, everything was either built from some variation on a primitive (sphere, cube, cone etc.) or used a seriously hacky (albeit quite elegant really when you think about it) method of making detailed convex hulls from a sphere and a displacement map (x,y,z mapped to r,g,b for those that care).
With the advent of mesh uploads, suddenly everything was new and shiny again. The giant cocks of old, knobbly and rudimentary with their cylinder/cut sphere construction, would become the normal mapped wang meshes of the future (SL is very much like that, not my particular region of it, but step outside your own known area and it’ll be roughly 3.28 seconds before you see a phallus of some persuasion).

Ahem. Anyway, my missus is a fantastically artistic lass, and she has a lot of talent when it comes to crafting, painting, making all sorts of pretty things. She’s also very much a horse fan. These things came together in the form of Hoof It Horses, our SL store for all sorts of things horse related. We have rideable horses, wearable horse avatars, rideable wearable horse avatars (thanks to SL’s vehicle system, another hack, but there it is) and a bunch of other stuff ranging from the deliciously fantastical centaur and hippocampus avatars and rideable eqwyrms (dragonhorses = awesome!), through to the more mundane but equally high quality clothing items, accessories and tools.

Advert over, and in case anyone’s keeping score, the hippocampus avatar was a mesh build using Blender, but was a little easier than the horse for various reasons I won’t go into here.

So SL introduces mesh uploads and after a while, we start looking at how to make a rigged mesh avatar, specifically a horse.
I’m effectively the tech support in this partnership, so the way it tends to work is that I learn the tools, then help the missus to use them. She applies her talent and I support with clever where required. In this case though, I think I went a bit overboard. I don’t know everything there is to know about Blender, but I know a hell of a lot more than I needed to to get this project done. Whoops 😉

Back to the past three weeks. With Fantasy Faire coming up, it seemed like a perfect time to get finished on this project if we could. There was a lot to do though. Lots and lots and lots. In fact, technically, we didn’t get everything we wanted done, but we got enough done to release a very fine product and the rest will be along very shortly for the official full release. If you haven’t guessed yet (are you even paying attention?) the last three weeks were spent in crush mode to hit the target of getting something out for Fantasy Faire.

It feels awesome to have achieved what we did. It’s a really cool product. I’m actually not particularly into horses but I haven’t put a humanoid avatar on in SL since we got close to finishing this one. It’s *that* good 😉

I’ve got these few loose ends to tie up, and a product to bring to full release, but thereafter I’ll be back to post more sculpting and general Blender related goodness.

In the mean time, TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT WE MADE!
































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