Coming from Humility to take on Goliath - TMP (The Shops) Legacy Review

 

Don't let your eyes decieve you. This isn't Lara.


Recently, I stated on Twitter that I had gained access to 'The Shops' Legacy Body. Now, I know prior, I had taken a shot at them, and have in the past, gone on tirades about their past business practices, their use of a LSL Bridge to a remote server, rather than using a local solution with the HUD they include with Legacy, along with how people had somehow decided to adopt it.

After having some time to tinker with it, I see why some people see it as revolutionary, as it were, and that my accusations of being high-poly were somewhat valid, but were more of a de-minimis than a major issue.

But.. to understand why Legacy is as important to Second Life's Fashion industry as people make it out to be, I must explain a dilemma that, at least those of us more of aware of it - know of.


Built (supposedly) from the blood of rivals

As I have stated many a time, I have a deep-seated hatred for Onyx LaShelle and Maitreya. I have had it for years, for various reasons - ranging from how Maitreya has an effective monopoly on the fitmesh body industry, how there's been rumors of Maitreya, even with responsible personnel being sacked, attacking competitors, how rumors spread of Onyx LaShelle (or someone from her area) engaging in Perjury of DMCA documents to force a competitor out of Second Life, not just the industry, how she has rumored to lock in certain developers to exclusivity agreements, How Maitreya has caused the industry to grow stagnant for several years now through their supposed anti-competitive business practices that would make the trust-busters of the 1900s blush, How Onyx LaShelle is, if third party testimonials are to be believed, just a overall terrible person, who puts herself and her goals before others, even if it means ruining them.

Now I know I throw a lot of accusations here, but they're backed by a trusted contact of mine who has had the pleasure of both being more in the loop than I, and knows people who have either worked with, or known Onyx, or the inner workings of her store. To say Maitreya is built from the blood of their rivals is a understatement. It's a powerhouse born from forcing out competitors in any way that doesn't directly result in Lindens nuking Maitreya Isle from orbit and throwing Onyx out on her ass, and It'll take a helluva lot of evidence to get me to change my mind.

Suffice it to say, not only are The Shops taking on Goliath - but they're taking on a Goliath with blood and guts in its' teeth, rearing to go at whatever threatens its' position at the top. And given their surprising rise to relative popularity in recent months since Legacy's release around the end of last year, that Goliath is probably conspiring in dark spaces to do whatever it can to crush it.

And honestly? The Shops are saints compared to Maitreya. Sure I've had issue with their use of a LSL Bridge with no local fallback for changing things like enabling BOM, changing clothing layers and the sort, the fact that their body has the highest ARC (Avatar Render Complexity) rating of all of the big four bodies, the fact that their past business practices were more from incompetence in the market, and issues relating to DRM, the fact they charge a arm and a leg for a mesh body, twice the market average, and the fact that I've lambasted them time and time again alongside Maitreya for a long time, especially after Legacy's Release, but... I've come to eat crow at their feet.

So before I start with the review - I want to say this.

Diana Takeda, and everyone on the Shops staff.

While I may not agree with some of your design and business practices - I do apologize for putting you all on blast how I have. I don't expect a response or even acknowledgement to this post, but I want you, and your customers and designers to know that I take back most of what I've said in the past about Legacy and it's predecessors.

With that out of the way, let's break open the box.

Out of the Ordinary

When I was greeted with the contents of the Legacy Body, I was greeted with this.
The Legacy body comes with some starter shapes, physics, Non-BOM alphas, the body and it's HUDs, along with some boxes using the .zip suffix. Whilst I'd prefer a tarball, linux jokes aside - the one that might grasp your attention out of all of them, is Legacy Fit Deformers.

You may be asking - "Nodoka, what do these Deformers do?" Well, it's quite simple.

One of the big selling points of Legacy, and what could really be said as the justification for the high price point - is that the Legacy body comes with deformers that are designed to match, within 95% (to my rough calculations) the Maitreya body.

Yes, you heard me right. You can, technically - wear Maitreya outfits with Legacy.

Some may be wondering, isn't this copyright infringement? Did The Shops steal from Maitreya?

Well, not exactly. Time for a lesson on copyright law, featuring Linux and a little program called WINE.

Reverse Engineered Middle Finger

For those of you not aware, which is probably half if not most of the people who may be interested in Legacy - Linux is a alternative operating system that's used by corporations and individuals alike, ranging from Linden Lab's server infrastructure both at the now defunct Co-location facility in Phoenix, and on the Amazon AWS instances that now host Second Life's various services, to on consumer smartphones, such as those running Android.

Now, the thing about Linux is that it doesn't have native support for Windows Applications. Meaning that you can't play games like Ace Combat, Halo, Battlefield or even use programs like Photoshop, Sony Vegas or more niche programs. This is where WINE comes in.

WINE, (a recursive backronym for WINE is not an Emulator) is, as much as developers may not think it is, Is a emulation and compatibility layer for Linux, Mac and other *nix OSes that aims to provide compatibility with Windows applications.  It does this by converting API (Application Programming Interface) calls from the windows program to Linux-compatible calls that the OS can interpret to run the program properly, as well as emulating a Windows operating environment, by creating a small, barebones replica of the Windows installation, known as a WINE instance (by me) or a Prefix (officially).

While WINE has come a long way in the almost 30 years of its' existance (dating back to 1993!), it's still rough around the edges. Some programs don't work right or at all, and games and software relying on hooking into the kernel in Windows obviously don't work in Linux, such as Anti-Cheat Engines like EAC and BattlEye, but for the most part, pretty much anything will run in WINE these days, especially those that have been around for a few years.

Now, what you may be wondering, apart from what this has to do with Legacy, is how does WINE get away with this? Isn't this a violation of Microsoft's copyrights?

Not exactly.

The way that WINE is developed is known as "clean-room reverse engineering". How this works, is that the developers examine how the program interacts with the Windows Operating System at a lower level, and while not looking at the source code proper, the developers try and create a equivalent implementation in WINE, such as issuing a kill signal to a program, or how to behave when minimized or not in focus. This is helped by the WINE Project refusing to accept code from former employees and contractors of Microsoft, due to the risk of 'poisoning the well' as it were, be it of malicious intent or not.

A similar case is present with Legacy and their deformers. How Diana Takeda and those responsible for mesh development have done this, is probably by getting their hands on full perm Maitreya clothing from a third party such as Meli Imako, and designing the deformers around different outfits from there, trying to make as close a fit to the Lara body as possible, without using the Lara Development Kit proper. This also explains, Much like WINE's imperfections, how the deformers won't work with every outfit you have for Lara. Some may clip due to being too tight, or maybe by some off chance, the clothing may fit too loosely.

At least in the US, This has been deemed legal, due to the fact that the copyrighted work is 'reinterpreted from scratch' rather than being derived from the original work. In the end, both Microsoft and Maitreya in their respective scenarios, don't have a leg to stand on in court.

With that explained, let's get to the body proper.

It's not easy being thicc

Starting out, my first complaint, outside of the ones i've talked about in detail in the past, is the fact that Legacy, without its' deformers, has the highest complexity of all other mesh bodies, with Slink's Hourglass, of the big four in my collection - having the lowest (standalone) complexity at 2,776pts.
Lara trails behind at 4,862pts, being in the middle of the pack..
Legacy, with a standalone complexity of 9,174pts, not including hands and feet..
And finally, Freya, being known for its' high complexity, having a complexity of 9,564pts..

Now I know the NiranVs of Agni will scream saying that ARC count is imprecise and what not, but regardless, it's still a useful tool to determine the general neighborhood that one's render impact is.

Now, while Legacy isn't on bottom on Standalone, keep in mind that you need the hands and feet, with which bumps it up to a whopping 14,010pts.

Now, this isn't extremely bad by any means, and it's much better than I made it out to be. It's better than my old collar which I bet would give aforementioned Niran a heart attack.
But still, if The Shops could optimize their mesh by just a smidge, to be on par with Freya, if not better, while keeping the same compatibility and relative quality, it'd be great.

With that out of the way, on to a positive.

It feels so good to be me


As someone who has always had a large bust in Second Life, I'm happy to know that a mainstream body that is up there with Lara, boasts a bountiful bust - which, unlike Hourglass, actually looks full.

Look me dead in the eye and tell me those don't look like best looking G-cups you've seen in your life. Without modifying my current shape designed for Freya too much, Legacy looks *great*. The only small gripe is that my signature 'beautiful' tattoo is more curved than on other bodies, but that's more a personal gripe than anything else.

They look, and even though I can't touch them (to my chagrin ^^;;) I can't help but say that they feel full, they feel like naturally large breasts, as opposed to the more unnatural and.. torpedo-looking Hourglass breasts.

The rest of the body looks simply amazing, with the tiny collection of Legacy clothing I have looking good on my avatar.

Now, to the dreaded question for some - how well does Legacy handle Lara clothing?
(Erratic's Christina Set)
(Erratic's Christina Skirt w/ Ryleigh Hoodie)
(United Colors' Ivyana Gown)
(ALTAIR's Angel of Sweets Stocking Cosplay)

Very well. Surprisingly so. There are issues with clipping, and in some instances I was able to correct them, but all in all, you can expect to have a compatibility rate of about 80-90% with either requiring alphaing or minimal clipping in those cases where it barely fits.

Suffice it to say, I'm impressed.It's a job very well done. But what about features, you ask?

Building on the Status Quo

While I've complained about the HUD's reliance on a LSL bridge, my only advice to The Shops out of the gate is to either develop a local-only hud that doesn't require your servers in the circumstance that your servers are rendered inoperable be it temporarily or permanently, or in the circumstance that your servers cannot be maintained any longer. You don't have to release it now, but when the time comes - having a EOL plan for such features will help tremendously with the value of your product, and ressuring customers that their product will last the test of time. 

The biggest gripe out of the way, let's talk about what Legacy does right.


Starting off, you have all the features you'd expect from a mesh body on the first page of the HUD, such as hand control, neckseam sizing, foot positioning and even applying materials to the skin such as specular and bump maps.  You also have the ability to change the shape and size of your fingernails, as well as choose whether or not you want the old onion layers that fitmesh bodies used to rely on for tattoos and the sort to be visible or not. As I exclusively use BOM, I don't bother with editing these settings in particular, and I use a bento AO, so adjusting my hands isn't something I do often.



Moving to the Style Page, we have the MOAP-enabled Style interface. This uses a Linden Scripting Language HTTP bridge to allow your HUD to communicate with The Shops' servers for reasons that I personally don't see the point of. You can change skin and nail color, use previously applied TMP/Legacy appliers, and activate Bakes on Mesh support. The body comes with several built-in skins, but I recommend using BOM for the best experience.




Last but not least, is the creme-de-la-creme of the HUD proper, one of its' best features, its' Alpha system.

It features a powerful interface that allows you to select zones of the body to hide in either a click 'area' mode or a double-click 'flood' mode, that allows for you to select individual alpha faces to hide, or to hide entire sections of the body. This works with both the deformers and the stock Legacy body. It also allows you to export your alphas to a simple scripted box that will pre-apply any alphas you define, and if you're either creating a outfit that may require alphas to work nicely out of the box, or just helping a friend, the alphas are copy-transfer, so you can easily share them with friends or customers, depending on the use case. There are also the usual 'hide all faces of x body part like in other bodies along the sides of the preview along with a reset button at the bottom right, and rotate preview buttons at the very bottom, above the aforementioned export button.

The Shops also have a Advanced Mateirals Editor, which I won't be going over here.

Conclusions

In essence, the Legacy is a good body, and is a viable competitor with Maitreya, especially with its' deformers that make it Lara-compatible. However, it's a bit scuffed up by its' high render complexity, as well as other smaller flaws, such as some legacy outfits being not well rigged to the body - but that's more stemming from growing pains, something all bodies suffer from in their first days, but what reigns on top of the problem is one that many have raised, even Ryan Schultz last year - is the price.

Diana, I get it. You've included a deformer, and technically it's two bodies in one. The HUD is slightly above standard and the body itself is great looking. But for 20 USD (5,000 SLD(L$))? That's not a wise business strategy, as not many people are going to be willing to, unless they've got the expendable money to, to buy the body at that price. Which is why I refused to until now, when it went on sale for 2,500 SLD for Black Friday Weekend. Putting my hopes of seeing Onyx LaShelle's blood-powered empire collapse under her galactically sized ego aside, If The Shops want to improve body adoption, then I highly recommend one of the three suggestions:


1. Lower the Price to 3,500-4,000 SLD permanently

This will entice people, especially when announced, to buy the body. Yes, it'll cut into profits, but in the long run, it will help your brand grow and compete with Maitreya, which has swatted you down before with Legacy's predecessor limping along before being discontinued earlier this year.

2. Offer Seasonal Sales

Much like Eagle Dynamics, a developer of flight sims for the PC market, they often have seasonal sales where the prices of their software is cut down dramatically from 60-80 USD to as low as 20. Now, if The Shops is already offering this, then great! Please, by all means, keep doing it, like how you did with Black Friday this year. It'll help with adoption of the body, and even improve public relations, which The Shops needs after what happened to the aforementioned predecessor's troubled past.

3. Offer the Deformers as a seperate addon which can be bought later or as part of a bundle, and reduce the price accordingly

This option is one that will help especially with onboarding new SL residents looking for their first body. If you reduce the price by 50% for a Legacy body without deformers, new and old residents will be enticed to invest in it, especially since more and more developers are supporting Legacy.

I don't think it needs to be said, but a fitmesh body's success depends on the health of the ecosystem around it. If the body costs too much, consumers will hestitate to buy it. If consumers aren't using it, then developers won't make clothes for it. If developers won't make clothes for it, consumer hesitation will grow. It's a vicious cycle. Diana and the rest of the staff at The Shops are taking on Goliath. And they can't afford to lose steam at any point in this race.

I have complete faith in Diana and her team that they can turn the fashion industry in SL on its' head. They've made an amazing, yet slightly flawed body, that has a secret weapon hidden in its' proverbial panties.

If you're looking for a new body, at least for females - Legacy is a prime candidate. And now I can see why. Just make sure you get it when it's on sale unless you feel okay with breaking the bank.

Special thanks to Patchouli Woollahra for providing the money I needed to get Legacy.

I'm still working on the Governance posts, but I'm debating cutting it into three parts, so watch this space.

Comments

  1. Hi, I wanted to say that if those are meant to be like natural breasts, they should be hanging by the law of gravity.

    It was great that someone talked about complexity!

    And we'll, I have the free classic body. Only deformer on the feets. I want to know if there's someone out there who sells deformers for it.

    Your points for a better sell are great, but I think the shops don't care cause they might have already know about those, but really don't care, don't know why.
    I had to buy maitreya, and I don't like it. Awful figure! But market is full of stuff for it so I had to budge.

    Body that's really low on poly: Ariadna, from Kalhene. And beautiful.
    Now it's not free anymore, but won't fit well on maitreya.. why selling a product that can't wear any clothes?

    Not only the shops was on sale, maitreya too.. half price. She had to lower her head.
    Kalhene was having her bodies at 1k lindens..
    I won't buy any mesh body high in complexity, and worse: 5k lindens!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey there! Thanks for reading.

      I don't really remember what I had my bust configured for but I believe it was for having a bra on or something of the sort - but when checking just now they do sag a decent amount when buoyancy is increased to max.

      I agree whole heartedly about the complexity issue and high price. I personally have a computer that can take that complexity, but I understand others aren't as fortunate. revisiting the Legacy body's model and cutting down on polys while minimzing the loss in quality would be a great benefit to Legacy, along with cutting the price down.

      I've never seen the Ariadna, and it seems to me that many less recognized bodies get left in the dust - my friend Sarrah used to use Slink Physique and had to abandon it because no one was making clothes for it. Honestly, I'm seeing more and more creators trying to promote their bodies, such as Inithium's Kupra starting to show up, which I don't see lasting long in the market. Before Kupra, I never heard of Inithium, and I doubt many others have either. They all have the issue of fighting a uphill battle against Maitreya and the other bodies because those have an extensive back catalog of clothing.

      The avatar clothing industry (at least for human avatars) is a crapshoot, in my opinion.

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