Linden Lab released new mesh starter avatars yesterday, giving new accounts a variety of choices of human or supernatural avatars, all using fitted mesh bodies over the basic avatar shape. They’ve also been added to the library, so I thought I’d try them on to see what new accounts will have to choose from, and to see just how much they could be tweaked.
This is the Sara av in her natural state. It seems that they are entirely no mod when you put them on, but you can swap out the shape for one of your own and then tweak the body a bit. You can’t modify the face, unfortunately, and they’re incapable of changing expression. I think she looks okay but she’s a bit thin, (although probably not when compared to most of the standard small and extra small avvies running around SL.)
I swapped her base shape for a standard medium shape, then outfitted her in a nice new Magika hairstyle and a mesh dress from Cracked Mirror, also in medium. Some of the mesh dresses I tried fit okay, others required a large size because it’s not possible to wear an alpha layer for the dress. Since I had her standing still in a pose I’m not sure how well she’d move with the dress, I suspect she’d have a bit of clipping here and there. Shoes are a lost cause, since nearly everything is designed for Slink feet these days I think our starter will have to stick with her boots or roam the grid barefoot.
She doesn’t look bad, although the skin on all of the avatars looks sort of splotchy up close. I can’t guess at what people entirely new to SL will think about these. I remember my first few minutes in SL, I wanted to start playing with avatar customization immediately, and didn’t even start exploring orientation island until I’d tweaked my shape and fiddled with my clothes. If I’d found it impossible to customize my look and thought my only option was to swap to another starter avatar I’d have been really disappointed. On the other hand I came into SL having already gotten used to highly customizable Sims characters, so I may have had a higher expectation for how much I could change my appearance than other new users.
I don’t know how much information LL will have available for brand new users to explain the difference between a basic avatar and a fitted mesh avatar, or if they even feel it’s necessary. If they don’t offer anything I suspect it will fall to merchants to explain why clothes don’t fit, or in the case of system layer clothes or new skins, why they don’t appear on the mesh avatars at all and require switching to the “classic” avatars. I would imagine most people will eventually want to change their appearance. especially after they see how nice an avatar can look with a good skin and nice clothes, so there will probably be some moments of frustration. I rather wish I could think of someone I know offline who might be persuaded to give SL a try so I could hear what they think of everything. I’m curious to see how this works out.
As for me, I was just really happy to put my own shape and skin back on.