Wednesday, November 3, 2010

49 of 52 - Stacking Prims

Victorian outfit for a Victorian Castle Builder

SL's model of payment for server space is the use of Prims.  The price of a Prim vary, as do the amount of land you get for each prim.  In a normal SIM, prims and land are tied together with the constant of 2,295 sqm/Prim.  This is actually a fairly high value compared to the real world, and it limits the level of 3D detail that can be recreated virtually.  As I am writing this, I am looking at the bookshelf in my living room (a home-made 28 prim piece LOL) that contains at least 400 prims worth of books and CD's. And there are lots of other stuff in here that would require lots of prims to recreate truly.  Even being a bit conservative, this 32 sqm room contains at least 1000 prims, requiring the constant of just 0,032 sqm/prim.  Thats two orders of magnitude better resolution than SL, and if it where to be matched would require each sim to hold 2 million prims instead of 15.000....  Virtual worlds still have a long way to go!

To cover up this loss of details, builders commonly paints what should have been individual prims onto a surface; that is a complete bookshelf with books is just 1 prim with 2 different textures: Front and sides.

The same things happens with prefab houses.  Builders draws windows and other details on textures.  This looks nice from a distance, but close by you notice the lack of true 3D windowposts and the like.  Also, most prefabs I have seen using this technique has a kind of "blurry" feel. 

Anyway, building my own homes I prefer to build using discrete prims.  So, in my castle-in-spe, the thin glass window prims are truly recessed into the thick stone walls.  And since all the windows uses the same texture, and all the walls are using the same texture, the viewer can render the outside walls of the castle loading just 2 different textures, even if the layout of the walls vary.  This leads to faster rezzing.  

Meshes might change all this, allowing us to create true 3D details without using prims.  However, it seems that the lab will still count "equivalent prims" - that is one mesh object will count as several prims.  Noone knows these rules yet, but I do hope they do not "punish" detailed 3D design too much.  If they do, we will still get prefabs with painted windows, and that would really be a vaste of this new technolog.

But I think stacking prims will still be the most engaging way to  build!

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