Saturday, 7 July 2007

Attack of the 50 foot avatar

We're thinking about having a new bathroom at home (I'm talking about RL here!).

I wondered about building a virtual replica of our bathroom in SL so that we could experience what different layouts might look like. As it happens, this was a pretty pointless exercise from the outset since our bathroom is so small that there aren't actually many options in terms of layout, but I thought it would be fun to try anyway.

So I measured up the bathroom and began building a replica of it inside SL.

Now... hang on a minute... I know I said the bathroom is small - but it ain't that small. Blimey, I couldn't even fit thru the doorway! I double-checked all my measurements. Yup, they looked OK.

So what was the problem?? Well basically, I'd set my avatar height to 90 (using 'edit appearance') when I'd first joined SL, which as it turns out makes me a fairly enormous 7 feet tall!

OK, so I'd created a giant in SL without realising it. I set my height down to 50, and things felt better (in terms of fitting into my replica bathroom), though still somewhat out of proportion. However, when I went along to Secondfest last weekend and mingled with other avatars I felt like a miniature poodle! I felt very short compared to most other avatars there.

Here's a chart mapping the avatar height setting to height in both centimeters and feet and inches (for us 'old money' types) as far as I can tell:

100 = 225cm = 7'4"
50 = 200cm = 6'7"
0 = 175cm = 5'9"

So to set my avatar to something like my RL height (5'10") I need to set my SL height to about 5. But my guess is that doing so will make me one of the smallest human-looking avatars in SL??

So why am I telling you all this? Well, various people have suggested using SL to model real-world architectural projects such as the designs for new schools and so on. Similarly, we are funding a project called SLEUTH to build SL replicas of historical theatres.

It seems to me that the unrealistic default avatar heights in SL are problematic in this context. Either everyone needs to set their avatar height very low (which ain't going to happen) or replica buildings need to be scaled up by about 10%?

Is this other people's experience?


Matthew said...

LL messed up the avatar scaling in a very early release of SL, and when they realised decided it was too late to change it, although some think LL deliberate made avatars too big in order to sell more land!

Another quirk is that the height that the camera floats at, can prove problematic if you try to set the ceiling level proportionally to the doors, which is why many builds in SL have high ceilings.

There are some in SL, who do set their avatars close to their real height and persist with it despite being relative midgets, and despite the recurrent "why are you so small? I'm not you are 7 foot!" conversations they end up in!

Incidently the various in world height measuring scripts in SL are not particularly accurate since they record the height of the collision bounding box, not the actual height of the avatar (I believe the bounding box is actually a little smaller!). So the best way is to stand against a prim and stretch the prim to the same height as you, and then check the size of the prim.

Oh, and be warned, you can now get banned from places in SL for being too short! Due to Daniel Linden's very badly worded "broadly offensive" blog post, some short avatars have been mistaken for being child avatars, and some venue owners have tend to ban anything that might look like age play from their land, rather than risk getting banned from SL for allowing age play on their land!

So be warned if you do wander around SL with an avatar at your RL height: at best you will get people asking why you are so short! at worse you may be accused of being a child avatar, indulging in age play or worse!


Elise M. said...

There's a whole thread on that subject here lol:

Amanda Ascot said...

I don't remember exactly how I became aware of the size problem in Second Life, but it was very early in my life, there -- within the first couple of days as I recall. I think I discovered that I was very tall when I was pushing buttons somewhere. I'm a button addict -- tell me not to push a button and I'll do it, just to see what happens. I did that once and got eaten and spit out by Aubrey, the carnivorous plant from Little Shop of Horrors, and had to relog to fix my avatar.

I set out to correct the problem by creating a prim exactly 5'4" tall, which is what I am, IRL, setting a horizontal prim on top of it, and fiddling with my avatar until my head just touched the horizontal one. It was after that that I noticed just how tall everyone in SL was. People would continually ask me why I was so small, and whether or not I was playing a child (to which I would usually reply something like "Boobies! See the boobies?"). I still live in world of giants, and refuse to give in to the status quo, which I think has the average human avatar at least 6'5" tall. I've been banned from parcels for being too short, but that's OK, too. If they don't want my business I'll take it elsewhere.

I also "wear" furry avatars, and most of those are even shorter than my human avatar -- typically in the 4'8" to 5' range. I do my best to spread the word about expansionism in Second Life. I even made a pose-stand that gives you your height when you touch it, and scattered several around my property, later working that idea into a device that would automatically announce the height of anyone who entered into range in my skybox. I got a lot of astonished replies. You see, most people have no idea how tall their avatars are.

The height scripts can be a little inaccurate, but most of them actually do report my proper height, as measured against a known prim. There are a lot of variables to height -- not just the generic "height" function in the appearance editor. Leg length, torso length, etc., all independently affect overall height. I have no idea how these variables affect the size of the avatar bounding box.