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 (my best friend here 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.
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)
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. 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:
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 a lot to be desired.