As it is, Geenz Spad, who is leading the viewer-side of the project (Runitai Linden is thought to be working on the server-side), is considering making a contribution which would allow for materials processing to be viewed without having deferred rendering enabled using the existing rendering pipeline. However, there are some caveats around this, not least of which are the likely demand for materials in non-deferred mode given the overall optimisation which is occurring in the viewer’s ability to run with deferred enabled.
There has been speculation within the forums as to whether materials processing will include lightmaps and whether the new materials will be controllable via scripting (i.e. so that they can be individually animated, etc.).
The scripting element is being looked at in terms of working within the existing texture animation capabilities of LSL, but there is a big question mark as to whether this will actually make it into the initial release.
Lightmaps, however, will not be a part of materials processing. There are a number of reasons for this, which Geenz outlined at the CCIIUG meeting on Tuesday 18th September:
“First off, never store the UVs for your lightmap in the same texture channel that everything else is based off of; they need to be in a separate texture channel where there’s zero overlapping faces. Second, in order to economize on texture memory, a batch of objects’ UVs would need to be “packed” to the point that you’re using as few lightmaps as possible. Then of course there’s the handling of lighting on dynamic objects; light maps only account for lighting being received on a static surface. So there’s a lot of issues that would need to be worked on if we were to do it.; but given the amount of work that would have to go into light mapping in order to do it “right”, it probably won’t be happening for a while.”
So while lightmaps may come to SL at some point in the future, they are not being looked at as a part of this project.
In terms of rolling-out materials, there are still not definitive – or even broad – time frames either in terms of the server code or the availability of the project viewer. However, it likely that materials processing will follow the usual large project route with an extensive beta test phase on Aditi and then a push via release channel on the main grid. There may also be plans in the works to develop a showcase area wherein the capabilities of materials processing can be shown to users.
Where the deformer goes from here is open to question – for one thing, Linden Lab still needs more clothing samples with which to test the updated version, as existing samples are no longer suitable for this work due to the changes made to the deformer. Oz linden’s original forum post on sample requests is still available to read for those seeking information on where to upload samples, etc.
Speaking on Metareality on Friday 14th September, Karl Stiefvater (Qarl Fizz), who has been the principal coder for the project, stated he believed the deformer was now nigh-on complete in terms of his input, and that enhancements lie (particularly) with third-party viewer developers:
“Sure, I think my work on the deformer is getting pretty close to being done. I’ve addressed all of Linden Lab’s concerns … So I think this should be it. There are couple of issue that people are reporting in the JIRA, but I’m not entirely convinced that those are anything other than user error or, you know, expectation error, more realistically. So give it a shot … The biggest change is in this set of parameters that are now encoded into the mesh it will allow for – it doesn’t do it right now, but it will allow for – what everybody wanted with the standard sizing things; it just needs a GUI on top of it to set those parameters. I didn’t do that because I figured one of the third-party viewers could do that.”
The issues Karl refers to are particularly with reference to body parts sticking through mesh clothing. However, Karl believes that such issues are almost all weighting problems, which fall outside the scope of the deformer project. Commenting on Metareality he said, “There are lots of reasons why your butt might stick through your pants [and] one of them is that the pants are weighted improperly, and the deformer won’t fix that problem.”
The weighting issue may be part of a broader viewer issue, and as such, may require bug reports filing if this is thought to be the case.
I Pressed an update on this on Thursday 13th September, and would refer you to that piece for news.