Reviews

NOTICE: This post’s subject matter is fetish accessories. If you are offended by fetish attire and accessories, I suggest you leave right now.

In general, I rarely post reviews of in-world products or services on my blog. However, from time to time there comes a moment when something catches my eye and I want to share it with my readers. The NGW Round Buns I’m reviewing here have given me such an occasion. On 1 April, Diane (xXnarayaXx Resident) announced on her Flickr account the launch of three accessories for latex hoods (either her own or others’). These are the Round Buns I’m reviewing here, and then there are the Pigtails and the Horns Buns.

NGW Round Buns
The NGW Round Buns.

In all honesty, not reviewing all three items is a conscious choice I’ve made, based on my personal aesthetic tastes. I’m not a fan of pigtails; I do like twin ponytails in lieu of pigtails – flowing, rich, and long, all the way down to the waist, or even going further down. But pigtails that only go to one’s shoulders have never been my thing; they’re a bit too Pippi Longstocking for me. The Horns Buns didn’t really do much for me, either. But I do love buns, and they’ve been an integral part of my outfits that don’t have me fully encased in latex for at least a year now. So, as soon as I saw the buns at the NGW mainstore, I went and bought them.

NGW Round Buns on me (front view)
Me, wearing the NGW Round Buns (seen from the front)

At L$350, they’re not exactly cheap, especially if you keep in mind that they’re an accessory that doesn’t have any complex RLV scripting. But let’s see how they measure up. For starters, as is the case with most of NGW’s products, they come with copy and modify permissions (only the scripts are unmodifiable), which is always a plus. They are unrigged, and this makes it make them easier to match different hoods. In NGW’s pictures, they are shown with the Helene hood, but I was able to match them perfectly with the Danaide hood that’s been an indispensable part of my look since late January.

Me, wearing the NGW Round Buns (side view)
Seen from the side…

As you can see from the official commercial picture, they feature a wide round base, upon which a stem is formed by a tube through which your hair passes. This tube is fastened by a locking strap that has spikes around it, and then your hair, which is presumably wrapped in a bun, is covered in a ball that’s supported by two crossed straps, and adorned by a highly suggestive, wide ring on the top of each bun. A tag is also hanging from each of the stems. What can’t be seen is a bow tie-shaped ribbon, which I honestly didn’t bother checking out. Some people may like such accoutrements, some may not care for them. I know that, in RL, there are catsuits and hoods with bow ties, ribbons, even frilly parts, but these features don’t do push my buttons. They’re nice to have, though, for those who want them. I wasn’t too keen on the tag, either. However, I really liked the basic shape, the ring, the carefully-designed geometry that makes matching them to your hood easier, and the locking strap. What I appreciated even more was the fact that I could unlink and delete the parts I didn’t want.

NGW Round Buns HUD
The HUD that controls the key parameters of the NGW Round Buns

To control the colour, shininess, and visibility of these different parts, they employ NGW’s new HUD, which is adequate, although I do think it’s a bit of a step back from the older one, which was more streamlined, and allowed you to dial in the desired glossiness and environment values; the new one uses bars for these parameters, pretty much like the ones used by the HUD for the Maitreya Lara body. This doesn’t really help you to set the values precisely enough; you have to eyeball things. What makes things harder with NGW’s new HUD is that, when you click on the parameter bars to set their values, the bars’ length don’t change. Another niggle is that the root part for each of the two buns (left and right) that are included in the box is not the same. So, should you choose to unlink the hanging strap, the ribbon, and the spikes in order to cut down on complexity (like I did), matching the positioning and orientation of the right bun to those of the left will be a bit more complicated.

Me, wearing the NGW Round Buns (rear view)
And seen from the rear…

Texture-wise, there’s nothing to mention – literally. They only feature the standard 32×32 blank texture, tinted accordingly, and all the shininess comes from the materials settings (glossiness and environment values), with the same blank texture being used as a specular map. Even the metal parts don’t use a metallic texture. You might find this surprising, but it does work pretty well from most angles. Obviously, this helps cut down on texture-induced lag. However, I do think it’d be a good idea to at least have some sort of AO map on the metal parts to enhance their edges’ definition.

As for what I did, I suppose what I wrote earlier makes it pretty obvious: I unlinked the bits I didn’t care about, removed the scripts, coloured the buns and adjusted their specular values to taste, aligned the two buns, and I was done! After all, they’re easy to edit, even when you’re wearing them.

All in all, these buns are a delightful accessory that can enhance your latex outfits and give you many more options than you already had. They’re easy to edit, for those among us who prefer to roll up our sleeves and tinker with our stuff; their geometry is fine, and the HUD works pretty well, although it gives you less control than you’d have by editing the buns yourself. Would I make them part of my main look? I don’t know. I like them; several people who’ve seen me wear them liked them. I’ll use them every now and then. but what I really wish I could find is a pair of long, flowing, Bento-animated, ponytails based on these buns.

Style credits for this post:

  • Mesh Body:  Maitreya Mesh Body – Lara v5.0 Tattoo Layer by Onyx LeShelle
  • Latex Hood:  NGW Danaide Hood v1.02 (rigged) 3.05 by Diane (xXnarayaXx Resident)
  • Collar: NGW Danaide Collar v1.01
  • Corset: NGW Andromede Corset S3
  • Boots: NGW Hera boots classic v1 (strappy)
  • Buns: NGW Round Buns (reviewed in this post)
  • Gloves: [DHB] Latex Gloves by haojie86 Resident
  • Catsuit: .:B1:. Latex Classic Catsuit Solid Maitreya (tattoo layer) by Allison Black (theoriginalblackone Resident)
  • Gag: chainZ – HoodPlug (Long) by Sunachamon Xue
  • Skin: LAQ ~ Lina BOM skin (No brows) – tone 3.0 by Mallory Cowen (it’s really irrelevant here, though)
  • Eyes: IKON Perspective Eyes – Coffee (S) by Ikon Innovia (again, they’re irrelevant here)
  • Communication Implant: ER IconTalk by Honey Puddles (Winter Ventura)
  • Reflections / Lights: [Daemon115] Shiny Latex Lights – Full Perm by Raelyn Beatty

The Country Hall by Apple Fall. A beautiful, 100% mesh, build that lends itself to extensive customisation and optimisation.

The Country Hall by Apple Fall. A beautiful, 100% mesh, build that lends itself to extensive customisation and optimisation. Click on any image for the full-size version, they all open in a new tab.

Last year, I wrote of my involvement with Apple Fall’s builds. In that post, I had written about the Portobello Corner Store, which is sort of an ever-ongoing project, with little details always being added. This time, I’m going to write about the Country Hall, which he had launched in the January 2016 round of Shiny Shabby, and which I’ve also been working on. It, too, will be part of my sim design project, and I think it would make a good office with a nice little garden around it. Being who I am, though, I wouldn’t leave it without a fair degree of customisation – which it honestly needs, and not just to make it more “me”.

Read Full Article

The Summer Roadtrip Droptop by REIGN.
The Summer Roadtrip Droptop by REIGN.- You can see more information here. As is the case with all pictures on this blog, click for a larger version, which opens in a new tab.

The July 2017 round of Collabor88 marked the first foray of well-known and well-regarded SL shoe brand Reign (stylised as REIGN.-) into vehicles. Now, I’m not particularly known for using – much less reviewing – SL vehicles, as I’ve always found them to be rather terrible to use, so this post is a foray into what could be considered uncharted blogging territory for me.

Read Full Article

OK everyone. My friends already know I’ve been using mesh body parts since 2012; I started with a mesh body by DanielRavennest Ni’s now-defunct Tirion Designs brand – I used it for a few months as the basis of my latex look, and then progressed to Utilizator Mode’s <Avatar 2.0>. Also, people who follow my blog know I generally don’t blog about fashion.

Now, it turned out that the Tirion Designs avatar had piss-poor rigging. Jagged edges in the elbows and shoulders when bending your arms or raising them, and all the other problems we’ve come to know and… “love” with the default SL avatar body – that’s what you get when you download a freebie from a 3D resource website and hastily upload it to SL. Also, way back in the summer of 2013, Tonya Souther of the Firestorm Team had written a harsh, but very poignant, post on the problems of the default SL avatar, explaining why Utilizator’s avatar design was a far better choice – a choice I had already made by that time.

Although my main look is still the latex look I had created with help from Inara Pey (whom I once looked up to and considered my best friend in SL), I also need more “conventional” appearances. In this department, I’d stopped mucking about with sculpted nails and the default hands and feet, and have gone with Siddean Munro’s AvEnhance parts (hands and feet). They work fine for me, they look good, and they’re well-supported by the vast majority of skin makers and numerous shoe designers out there. But still, I was saddled with the “idiosyncracies” of the default SL avatar body.

I confess to being partial to Slink – no offence meant to other, really good makers out there like Belleza and Maitreya. Siddean’s a friend of mine, and we often exchange ideas. So, it was no surprise that, when fitted mesh arrived and I wanted a fitted mesh avatar body, I went with the Slink Physique. Fitted mesh clothing in SL still isn’t what it should be, though, for various reasons. It might prove to be a competitive market, as we see more and more creators launching their own offerings.

Tirion Designs' Alice

The “Alice” mesh avatar by the now-defunct Tirion Designs brand. As you can see, it contained the arms, hands, torso, etc., as separate parts. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

In our case, I’ll examine Violet Studios’ ambitiously named Fusion modular fitted mesh body, which is touted as a “quantum leap forward in mesh bodies”. Ms Hemi Violet, the proprietor of the brand, informs us that the theory behind this mesh body system has been in the works for three years, that the body itself was in development for six months, and that it offers the innovation of being modular, i.e. the arms, torso, etc, are all separate parts which you can find in the folder; thus, you can add or remove them as you wish and they’ll still fit seamlessly. I’m quite familiar with Violet Studios’ products, as I’ve used (in the past) her vString breast implants in my latex look with very satisfactory results.

This, however, is nothing new. The (no longer available) Tirion Designs “Alice” mesh avatar came like this, as you can see in the picture to the right – and I know, because I happen to still have one of these bodies. The box contains the full version, the headless version, the arms, the legs, the torso, the hands, the feet – all of them separately. Furthermore, other mesh avatars, like Utilizator Mode’s <Avatar 2.0>, are linked sets; if they’re modifiable, you can unlink their parts (hands, arms, torso or torso halves, head, legs, feet) and keep them in your inventory so you can add them to your outfit according to your needs – and they’ll still fit seamlessly, or as seamlessly as the designer could. Unlinking parts from a modifiable linked set is rather trivial – only one mouse click away. Furthermore, non-modifiable fitted mesh avatars (like the Slink Physique) offer a HUD which allows you to hide those parts you don’t need to show.

According to Ms Violet, the modularity of the Fusion mesh body allows it to be matched with other products from her range, such as her vString breast implants, the “Wideloads” butts, etc.

While the modular design is a good idea indeed, it must be said that support for Violet Studios’ mesh body parts is nowhere near as comprehensive as it is for their counterparts from Belleza, The Mesh Project, Slink, Lolas, you name it. Finding clothing or shoes (outside what Hemi Violet’s brands offer) for these bodies and body parts is certainly no easy task. The same goes for skins, tattoos, manicure, pedicure, the works. Also, it’s nothing new: It’s been done before.

According to the official promotional material, the theory behind the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system has been worked on for three years, and the system itself was under development for six months. Please click on the picture for the full-size version (image credit: Violet Studios)

According to the official promotional material, the theory behind the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system has been worked on for three years, and the system itself was under development for six months. Please click on the picture for the full-size version (image credit: Violet Studios)

Then, there is the issue of value for money. Each of the Fusion bodies costs L$1500. Higher than the L$400 the (non-fitted mesh) <Avatar 2.0> goes for, higher than the Slink Physique’s L$1250 price tag, with far fewer options for clothing, skins, etc. Does the quality justify the price? I picked up a demo to test at home and, for something that was under development for six months (according to Ms Violet’s blog post), I don’t think I’d be willing to pay such a price for any of these bodies – or any price, for that matter. Why? Well, see the picture below (somewhat NSFW), on which I’ve noted some areas where considerable amounts of work need to be done, and judge for yourselves:

The fusion mesh body demo

Here, you can see marked in red some of the problem areas of the Violet Studios Fusion fitted mesh body. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

Personally, I’d be much more inclined to stick with the other, established mesh body avatars, which offer considerably better geometry, some of them offer compatibility with other makers’ mesh body parts, and a far wider range of clothing items that work with them. As it is, the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system leaves an awful lot to be desired.

.

See also:

.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-JB

SL Go logoOn March 5th, the launch of OnLive’s cloud-streamed third party viewer service SL Go was announced on Linden Lab’s official Second Life blog. This new TPV offered a way for users of tablets (Android only, for the time being) and owners of lower-spec desktops and laptops (no Linux version yet, sadly) to enjoy Second Life with all the visual eye candy that can be offered by the official viewer, with the performance that would be expected of a high-end machine. Unlike typical TPVs that are installed and executed locally, SL Go is a commercial service, so its use is not gratis.

Its introduction was met with considerable drama that had to do with (i) its initial pricing structure, (ii) the misconception that, from now on, Linden Lab would require that users use SL Go and other subscription-based services to access Second Life. The former has been duly addressed by OnLive, and the pricing structure is as follows:

  • $9.95/month for unlimited access, which starts with a 7-day free trial.
  • Pay-as-you-go for $1.00/hour.

As for the latter (the misconception that caused considerable drama in the blogs and forums), perhaps it has to do with the fact that OnLive’s service is endorsed by Linden Lab. Thankfully, it cleared up soon enough. I reviewed SL Go back in April, so for my opinion on SL Go on both tablets and desktops, please read my review.

SL Go's default camera position.

SL Go’s default camera position. Click on image for the full-size version.

Now, while SL Go was praised for its performance and visuals, there was some well-deserved criticism. For starters, its camera offsets are even worse than those of the official viewer; navigating low-roofed and cramped buildings becomes nigh-on impossible, because you can easily end up seeing the roof, or the floor above, and not your avatar. Second, it did not support fitted mesh at all. So, any avatars that wore fitted mesh garments were plagued by the well-known “stretch to (0,0,0)” issue.

Read Full Article