UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Meshbody Offers Free Versions of Their Classic Mesh Bodies for Men and Women

On the first anniversary of the release of the Legacy male and female mesh bodies, The Ultimate Meshbody creators (formerly known as The Mesh Project or TMP) posted the following message to their website:

We’re nearing the first anniversary of the official Meshbody system, we can’t thank all of you enough for your kind support, and for helping to bring it to life. It all started many years ago when a few of us helped design one of the first bodies on the grid as a contribution to the original mesh project when we were just beginning to learn and explore mesh. And though we’ve branched off on our own since then, the road has been a continuous learning experience. We’re grateful to be here, celebrating a year of being able to finally share our creations with you in the way we originally wanted to, and we’re extremely grateful to be able to do so thanks to your support.

As a thank you, we’re pledging to give our Original Classic Meshbody for men and women to the entire grid, free. They remain our personal favorites, perhaps sentimentally, and we hope they will bring a little happiness, joy, and inspiration to the grid! Many designers are coming out with brand new content for them as well!

Just join The Shops! group for free (just cut and paste the group link from the Meshbody website into the chat box of your SL client to join the group), and check the group notices for one called New sim online! In it will be an attachment SLURL that will take you directly to the location on the sim where you can click on either Men or Women to be taken to the right place to pick up your free Classic mesh body. Please note that this is the older, original Classic mesh body (formerly known as the TMP mesh body), not the new Legacy mesh body, which is still full-price.

Once you have made your selection, you have your choice of Classic body: the Free Edition, and the Creative Edition (which includes the Advanced Mesh Editor). Both cost one Linden dollar to purchase. The Creative edition appears to be a limited-time-only freebie, while the Free Edition looks like it will be available for free going forward. (Then again, this company has been well known for changing things around unexpectedly in the past, so don’t expect anything to be cast in stone.)

I did have one male alt who had the freebie version of the original TMP Classic body, so I dropped by to pick up the Creative Edition of the Classic body as an update. One nice new feature is that it now supports Bento hands. Here’s what he looks like (I paired the body with the Aron Bento mesh head, a past group gift from Akeruka):

This has always been one of my favourite male mesh bodies, so having an opportunity to get the upgrade for to it for only one Linden dollar is a bonus. Any clothing made for The Mesh Project (TMP) bodies should fit it well, although you may have to use the alpha sections on the included HUD to get clothing designed for other brands of mesh bodies to fit. You also have quite a wide range of built-in skin tones to choose from, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one that matches your mesh head. (A reminder that these bodies do not support the Omega system, so you won’t be able to use Omega skin, tattoo, or makeup appliers on these bodies.)

As you might expect, the sim is absolutely jam-packed with avatars picking up free bodies, so I would advise you wait a while, or use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer to fight your way in. Good luck!

UPDATE 3:44 a.m.: Well, the vendors of the female version of the Classic body seem to be overloaded at the moment, and don’t appear to be working at all. As for the men’s mesh body I described up top, for the women’s body there are both the Free Edition (which appears to be a permanent freebie), and the Creative Edition with an Advanced Material Editor (which appears to be a limited-time freebie). As with the men’s body, the update includes Bento hands and a wide variety of skin tones:

This sort of glitch is to be expected whenever a brand initiates such a big giveaway, so my best advice is to come back later, once things have been fixed. Right now there are just a lot of really frustrated avatars clicking away on the vendors, to no avail.

UPDATE 12:16 p.m.: O.K., they fixed the vendors, and I was finally able to purchase both the Free Edition and the Creative Edition of the Classic women’s mesh body. This avatar originally owned the then-free Classic body, which was free only for a short period of time, and then The Mesh Project suddenly began charging L$500 for it again, but made all the clothing for it free from The Shops!, a truly horrible point-and-click HUD-based shopping experience. (Here’s an older blogpost outlining the ordeal. There’s a reason that The Mesh Project was not that popular.)

Here is what that avatar looks like now, with the updated Classic female mesh body (note that she is wearing a choker to hide the slight mismatch between this body and her head, the Lulu Bento head by Akeruka, a former group gift):

Compared to the previous freebie version, there are some very welcome additions to this updated Classic body: a wider variety of skin tones, Bento hands with five different nail styles, and five different foot heights: flat, kitten heel, medium heel, high heel, and what can only be described as Ouch! heels 😉

So, what’s not to like? Three things about this dollarbie Classic mesh body may make you want to reconsider before you buy:

  • These bodies do not have any Omega support, so you will not be able to use any Omega skin, makeup, tattoo or clothing appliers. This is a deal-breaker for many.
  • Even though there are a wide variety of skin tones included in the HUD, it is unlikely that you will get an exact match to your mesh head. As far as I know, there are no mesh heads appliers that come in the matching Meshbody skin tones, and (as I mentioned in point one) there are no Omega appliers, so getting a match at your neck line will be a process of trial and error. Both versions of the Classic bodies do include a box of neck fades, and the Creative Edition package does include an Advanced Mesh Editor (which I have not tried). Your mileage may vary.
  • While there are stores on the grid which still sell clothing for the Classic mesh body (look for The Mesh Project logo on the vendor before you buy), the fact remains that there is much better clothing support for the “Big Six” mesh body brands: Maitreya Lara, Belleza Freya/Isis/Venus, and Slink Physique/Hourglass. Also note that clothing created for the new Legacy mesh body is not designed for the Classic mesh body, and may not fit very well. Again, your mileage may vary.

However, for the two alts I own that had already picked up the older version of the TMP Classic body when it was free, and then later picked up all the clothing for it from The Shops! when they were free, this upgrade is a no-brainer. Otherwise, if you can live with the inevitable neck seam problems and lack of Omega support, these are beautiful, well-designed male and female mesh bodies and well worth your Linden dollar.

I don’t know how long the Creative Edition of the Classic mesh body will be available as a dollarbie, so don’t wait too long to pick these up.

UPDATE 2:25 p.m.: One of my regular readers, Brinlea, left me the following comment:

This body takes Bakes on Mesh, and the current Akeruka gift head comes with a box of Bakes on Mesh system skins that will work. Voila, no neck seam.

Thanks, Brinlea! I had somehow overlooked the fact that this updated Classic mesh body supports Bakes on Mesh (there’s a button on the HUD under Settings to enable it, see image on the right). In fact, here is exactly that combination, pairing the Akeruka Limited Bakes on Mesh head and included skin tone #5 with the Meshbody Bakes-on-Mesh enabled Classic body:

Looking good! And, as Brinlea pointed out, there’s no neck seam!

And, of course, the Second Life vloggers are already all over this! Here are just three YouTube videos explaining how this mesh body works:

UPDATE April 18th, 2020: I’ve had a chat with someone who does customer service work for Meshbody, and I have a few important updates to share.

First, The Mesh Project is shutting down its original shopping region for purchases and redeliveries tomorrow, Sunday, April 19th, 2020. Moving forward, it will be the Meshbody.

However, I dropped by The Free Dove to outfit an alt, and all the product vendors refer to “The Mesh Project”—and that is not going to change anytime soon. Getting vendors to change their signage from the old name to the new one is not going to happen, so please do keep that in mind as you search for clothing to fit your free Classic mesh body.

Also, Meshbody has a new avatar queue system set up to get into the sim where they are giving away the free Classic mesh body, and have implemented a six-minute time limit for you to do your shopping quickly, and get out. They have asked people not to use tools like the Teleport Hammer to get into their sim. (I have been loading up alts all day to get into the sim, and I have noticed that it is, indeed, much easier and faster to get in than before.)

The Classic mesh body (the basic package, without the Advanced Material Editor) is going to be free “forever”, in the words of the person who reached out to me this evening. However, the Creative Edition of the Classic mesh body (with the Advanced Material Editor) is only going to be free until the end of April 2020, after which it will be priced at L$2,500.

So remember: The Mesh Project is dead (except for when you’re shopping for clothing and shoes for your new freebie Classic mesh body). Long live Meshbody! The more I play with it, the more I like this body.

UPDATED! Review: The Legacy Male Mesh Avatar Body by The Ultimate Meshbody

If you are looking for my review of the Meshbody Legacy female body, you can find it here.

The Mesh Project (TMP), which now seems to be calling itself The Ultimate Meshbody, recently held a contest where you could win the mesh avatar body of your choice (which usually retails for L$5,500, a price that I find rather expensive for a body that still doesn’t support Omega appliers, or have lots of designers creating clothing for it yet).

Well, the winners of the contest were just announced, and guess what?

I won! I was one of the 100 First Prize winners, who each receives the mesh avatar body of their choice, plus four gift cards or fatpacks from various Second Life designers.

After giving the matter some careful consideration, I decided on the Legacy male body as my prize, since I already have male avatars with the Belleza Jake and Signature Gianni mesh male bodies, and it would be useful to be able to compare all three. (I already have extensive previous experience with the Maitreya Lara, Belleza Freya, eBody Classic, and various free and paid-for Altamura female mesh bodies, so I didn’t really feel the need to add the Legacy female body to that mix.)

Also, I had quite liked the look of their predecessor (TMP) male mesh avatar, of which one of my alts had the freebie version, which was trim, fit, but not overly-muscled. The overall look of the Legacy male body demo appealed to me in a similar way. I will even go so far as to say that it’s probably the best-looking male mesh avatar body on the market right now (although Belleza and Signature would probably beg to differ with me!).

Here are some pictures I took of the demo version of that body, taken in The Ultimate Meshbody store. I decided to pair the body with the Akeruka Clay Bento mesh head (a relatively recent Akeruka group gift):

I tried to match the skin tones of the head and body as best I could, but there is still a detectable neck seam. However, The Ultimate Meshbody does provide a complete set of neck shaders to make this seam less noticeable. Here’s a look at the full body, and I must say that it’s quite impressive:

In particular, the detail on the hands and feet is just insane!

We have clearly come a long, long way from the hands and feet of the classic system avatars of 16 years ago!! I mean, I can see veins on the Legacy feet!

Then, I patiently waited for my prize to arrive…which it finally did today!

The Legacy male mesh body package includes:

  • An information card with a frequently-asked-question list;
  • Version 1.1 of the body (hands and feet are not separate);
  • Nine different body shapes;
  • Two versions of the EDIT HUD, which controls skintone, nailtone, alpha sections, etc. (one larger and one smaller);
  • An Advanced Material Editor to add a custom texture, bumpmap, or specular, or to adjust full-bright/glow on your Legacy body;
  • A package of fit deformers, which apparently allow you to wear clothing originally designed for other models of male mesh bodies, including the older mesh clothing using Standard Sizing (I haven’t tested these yet, so I can’t say anything about them);
  • A set of neckfades in 36 different colours, which are textures you apply to your avatar’s head in order to reduce the visible seam between the mesh head and the Legacy mesh body (a corresponding neckfade is applied to the body using the EDIT HUD);
  • A Create package, which “includes all the necessary in-world tools needed to make content for Meshbody” (including autohide scripts to drop in items of clothing);
  • A Premium Outfit: black briefs, four tight and four loose cashmere sweaters in four colours each, five pair of chino pants in different colours, and suede oxfords in four colours. It’s a basic, colour-coordinated capsule wardrobe to get you started (a thoughtful touch, especially since most starter mesh body packages just give you underwear).

The only problem I encountered when setting all this stuff up for the first time was trying to use the neckfades. According to the notecard included with the 36 neckfade textures:

◦ First, choose a neckfade that closely matches your current skin using the [EDIT] HUD.
◦ Next, choose the same skintone number in the unpacked folder ‘[LEGACY] Meshbody (m/f) Neckfades’.
◦ Once you’ve found the corresponding texture, apply this texture to your head by dropping the texture onto a custom slot your mesh head allows or by creating a supported applier your mesh head allows.

And I must confess that I have absolutely no idea whether or not my Akeruak Clay mesh head has a “custom slot” (I don’t think it does), or if I know how to create a “supported applier”. Seriously, this is the best you can do, guys? And given that Legacy currently sells no heads to go along with these bodies (and, as far as I know, no Omega appliers in the Legacy’s twelve skintones to use on other brands of mesh heads), this is a rather kludgy workaround. Basically, the store dumps the problem into your lap instead of trying to solve it themselves. Not impressed, especially for what you pay for this mesh body if you were to purchase it: approximately twice as much as any other male mesh body system out there on the grid.

I may just decide to live with the slight neckseam—or invest in some turtleneck sweaters! At least, more and more designers are now creating clothing specifically for the Legacy bodies, both male and female. And I also received some giftcards and fatpacks as part of my prize to get me started!

Anyway, other than that, the quality of this mesh body is truly excellent, absolutely top notch. Here is my avatar, wearing the default starter shape with no adjustments, ready to hit the beach, after I tried for an hour to find the very best match between the 6 included skintones on the Akeruka Clay Bento mesh head, and the 12 skintones that come with the Legacy mesh body:

I am quite pleased with the way he looks! Here’s how my little stud muffin looks with some clothes on:

I suppose one thing I could do is investigate to see if there are any skin appliers out there which support both Akeruka mesh heads and Legacy mesh bodies. I could also decide to open up my wallet and spring for a Catwa head, since there are very clear instructions provided in the Legacy package on how to install the neckfades on a Catwa brand mesh head. But I just don’t feel like spending another L$5,000 at the moment, not when I have a whole set of Akeruka mesh heads in my inventory that I have picked up as free group gifts over the past two years. (It offends the freebie fashionista in me!)

So, would I recommend this body?

Yes—provided the company works out a better solution to deal with the inevitable neckseam problem you will have. Yes—provided you can live with a smaller number of designers creating clothing and shoes for this body than the competition (Belleza Jake and Signature Gianni and Geralt). Yes—provided you don’t need or want to use Omega appliers (which have become sort of a universal standard in Second Life).

If you can live with all those current limitations, and if you have the cash burning a hole in your pocket, then I say yes, go for it. But there are certainly cheaper male mesh bodies out there, with better designer support and Omega applier support, which you might want to carefully consider first:

  • The Jake Belleza mesh body will set you back L$2,999 without head.
  • The Signature Gianni and Geralt mesh bodies cost L$3,500 each, without head.

Frankly, I don’t see a lot of extra oomph for the Legacy body sticker price of L$5,500 (although I admit the capsule wardrobe is nice). You could take your savings and put it towards a nice Bento mesh head, from Catwa or Akeruka or any other vendor. Or put it towards a very highly realistic-looking skin applier from Birth or Stray Dog. I still don’t think that The Ultimate Meshbody is the best value for your money (although I certainly can love it as a contest prize which I won for free!).

So, if you’re still interested, here is the SLURL to take you directly to The Ultimate Meshbody store, called The Shops (and yes, they have improved their previously horrible shopping experience somewhat). And, in a note to those who are haters based on their past experiences with The Mesh Project, they say:

Why should I support your content?

Well, first, we just hope you like it! We spend a lot of time, care, & love on trying to make things both beautiful, and functional but still high quality. Doing this, is truly is what we love to do, and we’re so passionate about making beautiful things for you. It is genuinely hard work, especially when we try to be perfectionists. We hope that you’ll consider supporting our work so that we can continue to spend as much time as we do on our products and keep delivering you the best. We are so sorry it took such a long time to deliver this series of bodies but with it we learned a lot and we feel more comfortably confident that we can deliver great products to you in a much shorter time period now that we’ve learned from experience. Thank you so much for those of you who have supported us since the beginning, we won’t ever forget it and we’re so thankful for your continued support & patience.

Pictures taken at Secret Beach. Speedo by Legal Insanity.

UPDATE Jan. 13, 2020: Somebody suggested to me something which I had completely forgotten about, which is that the Legacy body and Akeruka head both support Bakes on Mesh, so I suppose I could go that route if I really want to get rid of that pesky neck seam. There are more and more high-quality BoM skins out there! Here is information on the Bakes on Mesh capability of Legacy mesh bodies from their website.

The Mesh Project Launches a Huge Contest in Second Life to Promote Their Legacy Mesh Bodies, With Prizes Worth Over a Million Linden Dollars in Total!

The Mesh Project (a.k.a TMP) is pulling out all the stops in one of the biggest contests that Second Life has ever seen, in an effort to promote their Legacy mesh body, which I have written about before on this blog.

First, if you purchase their Legacy mesh body (male or female), you will save L$500 during the promotion period (Nov. 15th to Dec. 15th, 2019). Please keep in mind that this brings the price of the Legacy mesh body down to L$4,500, which is still significantly more expensive than competing male and female mesh bodies that have much better designer support, and which support Omega skin and makeup appliers (TMP bodies do not support Omega, although I do believe they now support Bakes on Mesh).

Also, there is a contest which you can enter for free just by entering your avatar name on this website. The rule is one vote per avatar, but if you choose to promote the contest using your Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr accounts, you can earn extra chances to enter this contest.

The contest prizes are as follows:

  • 100 First Place winners will each receive a Classic or Legacy mesh body from TMP, plus 4 gift cards and/or fatpacks randomly chosen from participating sponsors (sponsors are listed below); first place winners have the option to gift the winning body to a friend, or may receive a full refund if they purchased a body during the giveaway period (Nov. 15-Dec. 15);
  • 100 Runner Up winners will receive one gift card or fatpack from participating sponsors.

The sponsors are a veritable Who’s Who of Second Life brand names!

Editorial: Why Unoptimized Mesh Bodies and Content Are a Problem in Second Life—And Why Most SL Users Don’t Care

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 300 people participating from every social VR platform and virtual world! More details here

Image of a well-optimized mesh avatar body with a lower triangle count
(from New World Notes)

I am going to broach an unpopular topic in Second Life. (Some have even warned me that I might get hate mail from some readers.)

Wagner James Au has been writing his blog about Second Life since the very beginning of the platform, and he has seen a lot come and go in his time. One of his regular rants lately has been about just how horribly unoptimized and inefficient many of the modern mesh avatar bodies are in Second Life. (Frankly, it’s not just mesh bodies; there is quite a bit of other poorly-constructed content in SL—houses, furniture, decorations, etc.—with sky-high rendering costs. Part of the problem is that Linden Lab doesn’t want to break any old content if they can help it.)

Why is this so important? Well, the more complex your avatar is, the more effort it takes for the graphics card in your computer to calculate and display what you see correctly on your screen. And it’s not just your mesh avatar; it’s everybody else’s mesh avatar who is on the same sim as you, plus all the scenery around you, too! Every Second Life user has experienced irritating delays in rendering scenery when they first spawn on a new sim, and significant lag at busy events where there a large number of avatars to render. These problems have been going on for years and years now.

The problem is that Wagner is pretty much beating a dead horse with his critiques. Most Second Life users care only about how good their avatar looks, and they don’t know (or don’t care) about how much unoptimized mesh content negatively impacts SL and other users, particularly those on older, slower computers. I myself have an absolute beast of a gaming computer, built especially to support my Oculus Rift VR headset and to run VR games and apps at the requisite 90 frames per second (to avoid VR-induced nausea). I routinely run my Firestorm viewer for SL at the maximum, Ultra quality settings, and usually my computer handles everything just fine.

Linden Lab well knows that this can be a problem, and some years ago they introduced something called the Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC for short). Here’s a summary of how ARC is calculated. Basically, it is a figure calculated for each avatar on a sim, based on whether they have a classic or mesh avatar, what they are wearing (clothes, hair, shoes, accessories), etc. Showing the ARC on yourself and other avatars is easy to turn on in Firestorm: just press Ctrl-P to bring up the Preferences panel, click on the General tab on the top left-hand side, and check the box next to “Show avatar complexity”:

Many SL viewers will allow you to automatically derender avatars whose ARC is above a certain limit (which means offenders will appear as the so-called “jelly dolls”). This feature can improve Second Life performance significantly for some users. (Like I said, I have my settings adjusted to properly view everybody around me on a sim, regardless of how high their ARC is. I want to see what everybody is wearing, dammit! I often find new stores to visit and new things to buy by doing a right click/inspect on avatars around me. I can’t do that if they are derendered! But obviously, there is a significant rendering cost on my computer, especially at busy events.)

But today’s discussion of this topic on the -life channel on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server really brought home to me just how serious the problem of unoptimized, inefficient mesh can be in SL. Recently, a Second Life vlogger named Cassie Middles created a chart showing how many triangles make up each of the popular mesh bodies. (Here’s a direct link to the Google spreadsheet she created. The higher the number of triangles, the more complex the object, and the harder your computer graphics card has to work in order to render it properly. As well as everybody else’s computer.)

One of the mind-blowing facts I learned today is that the brand new Legacy mesh body (just the naked body with hands and feet, without any clothes, shoes, jewelry, a mesh head, hair, etc.) comes out to a whopping 794,368 triangles!

To put that astronomical figure into some perspective, someone said that that number is significantly higher than the rendering cost of an entire match of Overwatch players (two teams of six avatars each, at an average triangle count of 40,270 triangles per character, for a total of 483,240 triangles). That is truly insane! And the feet alone on the new Legacy mesh body come to 380,368 triangles! Mind you, most games are deliberately designed to be as optimized as possible, but nobody needs that level of complexity! It is complete overkill.

But, as I said, writing about this is kind of like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. There is really no incentive for mesh body makers (and other mesh content makers) to create and sell better-optimized mesh in Second Life, and no penalty if they don’t. Linden Lab does not ban or restrict avatars for having very high rendering costs. For example, here is one outfit I put together for my main avatar, Vanity Fair, which has a total Avatar Rendering Cost of 702,597! This means that, when I wear this lovely outfit to a place like Frank’s Jazz Club, I am pretty much seen as a jelly doll (i.e. derendered) by everybody around me. In other words, I am only dressing to be seen by me.

If I take off the three sets of shimmery flexiprims that are part of the skirt of this beautiful gown, the ARC drops to 108,365. If I remove the jewelry, the ARC goes down to a quite reasonable 59,575 (some older jewelry in particular can be quite badly optimized):

Even making these simple changes to an outfit can make a big difference to performance (for you and others), especially at crowded events.

So, even though it might be a losing battle, I might just decide to add my voice to Wagner’s about the proper optimization of mesh content in Second Life. I still think it’s a losing battle, though. Most SL consumers could care less.

I think that the best that we can do at this stage is two things:

  1. Promote awareness of the problems of unoptimized, inefficent content among Second Life consumers (for example, including triangle counts or some other complexity measurement in SL Marketplace listings of products);
  2. Educate SL content creators to make more efficient mesh by using proper decimation and other techniques in tools such as Maya, 3ds Max, and Blender.

Yes, it’s an uphill battle, but it’s worth fighting for a better-performing Second Life for everybody, don’t you agree?