I am proud to release the update to the Vixen Leather Training Set, turning them into mesh and giving them materials !
Black leather and blood trim, with the local lights shining over its surface
The same from another angle
White leather with gold metal, notice the shadows on the surface making it look more realistic
Clear plastic ! Yay !
Black latex, of course
The collar is not forgotten either, here is an example of the "dirty leather" preset
This was a very popular request, and I had been wanting to do this for a while but the amount of work was staggering. More on that at the end of this post if you're interested in what it took to make this update.
Please note that the new features will be only demonstrated here, but I won't explain in detail how to use them in this post. There will be another blog post explaining all there is to know about the Vixen set, including the new features.
Here is a list of all the highlights of this update, I will develop on them one by one below :
1. Entirely redone to become mesh
2. The style and look are identical to what they were, so your Vixens remain Vixens
3. Materials-enabled with several interesting presets
4. Ability to use standard textures like in the Deluxe Straps, including clear plastic and realistic clean and dirty shadow maps
5. Baked lighting textures like before if you want (but you don't have to use them)
6. Colors are the same as the catsuits, bodysuits and other restraints from RealRestraints, but of course you can use a custom one (baked lighting textures use a subset of 9 predefined colors among the 27 available ones)
7. Improved the Text plugins, merged the three into one (text, color, font), added the fonts of the Restrained Elegance collar
8. Added several poses for the arms in "Hands back"
9. Replaced the Hogtie Tight poses and crawl with the smoother ones of the Siren Ropes
10. The collar can finally be worn on the "Neck" attachment point
11. Contains the upcoming RR v1.30 improvements
Let me detail these changes one by one.
1. Entirely redone to become mesh
When the original Vixens were released in 2011, more than 6 years ago at the time of this writing, mesh didn't exist in SL so they were made of sculpties. A sculpted prim is a special kind of prim that has an additional texture, called "sculpt texture", serving to define its shape, but the number of vertices are fixed in advance and you do not have as much freedom to design the structure, let alone UV map (the way to wrap a square or rectangular texture around the object topology), as you do with mesh.
This meant they couldn't resize very easily since the metal was made of regular prims (you can't have several textures and shines on a sculpted prim), they would be slow to rez and would be penalized by the Avatar Rendering Cost formula, especially when invisible (that formula punishes sculpties and invisible surfaces really hard). And sculpts being an approximation of a shape crammed into an RGB texture, they can get jagged edges so making them shine with materials later would not look perfect.
Now that they are mesh, the cuffs and collars can be stretched in all directions the way you want, each cuff and collar is like one prim (except the Classy collar which text writing is made of 4 additional "prims", which allows for up to 32 characters). And they are now smoother so they accept materials with no problem. But if you can't see materials on your viewer (by choice or because your video card doesn't handle them), you still have the option to use baked textures like before.
Like before, the bar is part of the cuff (it would require its own attachment point otherwise, and I'm trying to spare those)
... but this time the cuff part is one prim instead of several
Attention though, the metal bars are still made of prims and not mesh, there are several technical reasons for that, one of them being that they can be resized independently thanks to the Reshape plugin. Likewise, there are several invisible Lockmeister and leash points on the cuffs and collars that will need to be moved along with the cuffs, but their positioning needs not be very precise anyway since they're there to spawn particles.
2. The style and look do not change
This was a very important requirement for me. The Vixen set is one of my best sellers and I know people love them for the way they look, simple and classic. Changing them to mesh meant almost redoing them from scratch, with the additional constraint of getting the exact same design as before. There are a few minor changes, for example the padlocks look more like those of the Deluxe Straps now, and the bar above the U-binder is now directly linked to the plates on the straps, instead of going through cylinders first, but that's pretty much it, the rest is the same as before. So your Vixens remain Vixens.
On the left, the original vixen cuff (top) and collar (bottom), on the right the new mesh version with materials, trying to get the shine coming from the local lights roughly at the same place on the surface. Full disclosure, I used the "Rubber" material on the mesh set instead of "Leather", because the latter is much rougher, with a leather skin bump pattern, and shines more. So "Rubber" is what is closest to what the baked textures on the old set are, it seems.
Notice the metal becoming grey (but you can turn it white yourself if you prefer), and the padlocks changing style, the rest is pretty much the same as before.
Switching to mesh just for the sake of switching would make little sense, considering the amount of work it involves, and to be honest, I don't like baked lighting since it doesn't move with the camera. I like materials a lot more, so sure enough they are materials-enabled now. This means the texture plugins, called VixenTex on all three subsets, have been created to handle both materials and baked lighting, and you can even use both at the same time if you like.
There are many presets, most with materials, others marked "static" (i.e. baked) lighting with predefined colors. Look for yourself :
"Static blood" preset. The texture is rougher than before, not because of resolution but because the material I used in Blender is rougher.
Here are the presets included in the VixenTex plugins, those use materials (the others are for the baked textures) :
Of course, materials means you need to have some light(s) around you, and to activate Advanced Lighting Model on your Graphics Preferences in your viewer. If your computer is slowed down too much after enabling ALM, turn the dynamic shadows off, that's what brings the frame rate down.
Some of the colors used in the presets are not in the "Tints" menu, let me write the RGB values below so you can use them yourself with the "Custom" button if you wish :
Old leather used in "Dirty Leather" and "Institutional" : 100 71 53
Gold used in "White gold" : 219 182 134
Padlock used by the Deluxe Straps : 228 169 85
Khaki used in "Battlefield" : 66 74 59
Blue jeans used in "Dirty Jeans" : 28 51 77
There is a little graphical experiment I'm doing with the Vixens, something I haven't done before, and I'd like you to know about it. You might have noticed that when you add a white shine over a colored texture, the surface shines white (or whatever color the light is), regardless of its underlying tint. This may or may not look good depending on the circumstances, sometimes it looks washed or even fake. In the real world, part of the tint of the light becomes mixed with the tint of the surface.
In the Vixens, I have added a simple algorithm to tint the shine as well, according to the tint you chose for the surface. For example, if you choose a blood tint with a leather shine, the shine will be a reddish grey. I find this looks much better and closer to the baked lighting counterpart (which is computed in Blender and uploaded as a single texture, instead of being rendered in real-time), but that may be just me. The effect is subtle and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't told you about it, but it's there. I find it should be the job of the viewer to mix the shine on a per-pixel basis (after mixing the tint and the texture), but it doesn't.
Here is an example of what I am talking about, with two blood leather collars side by side in front of a white light. The left one has tinted shine, the right one has white shine. I think the left one looks better but your mileage may vary :
All this to say, if I get too many complaints about the result of this experiment, I will back up to a white shine like on the other RR products. But if I get positive feedback, I will extend this little trick to the other restraints as well. So take a look at it, and if you like it, please let me know !
One last thing, when choosing a tint in the "Tints" menu of the VixenTex plugin, I strongly suggest using the "Clean" or "Dirty" pattern in the "Patterns" menu, because they have shadows, which the other patterns do not have (in particular "Plain" which is just plain white). This looks much more realistic like this. Of course it wouldn't make sense to have shadows on the "Transparent" and "Clear" patterns since they are transparent. As for the other patterns, I didn't add shadows to them because this would mean making variations of them for every single part. Way too much work, but it works pretty well like this already anyway.
Clean white, notice the shadows
Dirty white, with shadows and some gunk
Plain white, there are no shadows
"Slave" written over the cuff, it's plain too but at least there's some writing
4. Ability to use standard textures
By "standard textures" I mean textures that are not baked, but that are not plain either. You may already know the textures used in the Deluxe Straps, Highbinder, Body Harness and other restraints in RR, now the Vixens can use them as well. This was also a big requirement for me and easily doubled my workload, but it was worth it. You can now make your Vixen cuffs and collars show "Slave", "Owned" and the like printed on their fabric, as well as several other textures such as camo, cow, hearts...
Skulls ("Yarrrr !")
Red hearts (notice the shine that is red too because the original texture is white and black, I had to tint it light red, which tints the shine as well)
5 & 6. Baked lighting textures like before if you want
Some people just won't see materials. Either by choice or because their computers are too old, but these people bought the Vixens with baked lighting, and if I didn't add baked lighting into the new mesh version, that would mean breaking the product for them, which is unacceptable. This is why baked lighting is still featured in the Vixens, even though the colors are slightly different now, they are chosen to match their materials counterparts. Plus the old pink was too bright, don't you think ?
The baked lighting textures are labeled "static" on the VixenTex plugin, because "baked" is a technical term, while "static lighting" is the opposite of "dynamic lighting", i.e. materials. Please note that selecting a preset is the right way to go with baked textures, since they will automatically turn the shine off. But nothing keeps you from adding shine later on with the "Materials" menu on the VixenTex plugin.
Static rough (formerly named "Hide" but renamed because of confusion)
Note : the shadows near the eyelets look a bit blocky on these pictures but that's because of my viewer, there must be a graphics setting somewhere that filters them according to the distance, seen from closer they look more defined :
Full disclosure, the "Static white" texture (or rather textures, there are many of them, two per cuff and collar) is exactly the same as the "Clean" pattern in the "Patterns" menu of the VixenTex plugin. Likewise, the "Static rough" texture is the "Dirty" pattern with two brown tints (one for the base, another for the light). So you can easily reproduce the same effects with materials.
7. Improved the Text plugin
In the old Vixens, there were three different Text plugins. One for the text, one for the color and one for the font. The reason was that I couldn't get them all three into one plugin with the limitations of LSO (16 kB memory max, including the code, that was not enough). This was pretty cumbersome and counter-intuitive so I have now merged them all into one plugin. And by merging I mean creating the new plugin from scratch. This plugin lets you enter the text you want, choose the color you want or even a custom one, and the font among 18 fonts (the original 9 of the Vixens, plus the 9 of the Restrained Elegance). Or even specify your own font, but I'll need to write a blog post on how to create one.
You can also specify an interval for the color and font changes so you can mix and match on the collar, setting different colors on different parts of the text. It takes time, but the effect is good. For example you can make the text on the left side red and the text on the right side green, you then set the tint of the metal white, and you look like a plane.
And you can tell the plugin to mirror your text so you don't have to enter it twice, by terminating your custom text with a star ("*"). For example if you enter "Vixen*" in the text box after pressing "Custom", it will display "Vixen" twice, once on the left side and once on the right side.
Lastly, this plugin uses four prims to display the letters, instead of 24 like before. This means that if you need to resize the Classy collar, you need to select the collar itself as well as the four curved prims that show the letters.
8. Added several poses for the arms in "Hands back"
The original Vixens have six crossed "Hands back" poses (meaning the wrists are crossed like in the Siren Ropes, in fact the poses come from them). Three with the hands on the butt, three more with the hands on the small of the back. Only, when bent over forward there was no way to make the hands touch the back with these poses, so I have added 12 more to do that. It's simply variations of the ones you know, but it gives you more control.
9. Replaced the Hogtie Tight poses, added simple Hogtie poses
The old "Hogtie tight" poses and crawl were too fast, and the crawl too twitchy. I have replaced them with the ones from the Deluxe Straps, which are smoother, and that lock became lock nbr 7 because lock nbr 5 becomes a normal hogtie (so the Vixens now have three hogties : spread, normal and tight).
That normal hogtie comes with the Siren ropes' "Hogtie poses", plus its "Hogtie Open" poses as well, because in a rope hogtie you can't open your thighs, but in cuffs it makes sense that you can. I will in time do the same with the other legs cuffs in the RR line, such as Police, Serious and Elegance, if I can.
10. The collar can finally be worn on the "Neck" attachment point
It's a small thing and it it could be done before, but it would be problematic with the "Yoke" arms lock, which needs the collar to be fixed with regards to the chest. Now that lock freezes the lower part of the neck to keep the collar in place just like in one of the two "Posture" collar locks, but when you are not in "Yoke" (or "Post med" or "Post high" for that matter) your collar will move better around your neck instead of clipping stupidly.
11. Contains the upcoming RR v1.30 improvements
As I mentioned in this post, I am in the process of updating the whole RR line to v1.30. This update is pretty big as it impacts everything but don't worry, it doesn't change anything fundamental, it is mostly about bug fixes and small enhancements for comfort. Here is a short list of what changes, that concerns the Vixen set :
- When "/77" is off and the wearer does not have full access, accessing the restraint by touching it or by calling it with "/77 restraint_name" will lead to the plugins browser instead of being ignored, this way the wearer can still customize their restraint even if they cannot struggle. Likewise, clicking on "Main..." on any plugin (including third-party ones) will lead back to the plugins browser instead of the main page.
- We can now do suspension with the leash without bouncing ! This has been a popular request for years and I have always postponed it but this time it's done.
- When the leash holder is too far (beyond 96 m or beyond length*2, whichever is closer), the sub will not be yanked to them anymore, to avoid being flung in the air when TPing from one place to another in the same sim. This effectively makes leashes longer than 100 m useless but hey, 100 m is no leash, this is a tractor beam.
- When locking the cuffs on the Vixens, the Autolock plugin now stops losing its anims.
- Anim plugin : The sub does not remain frozen anymore when the captor is not around. "Freezing" the sub's pose is equivalent to holding her steady (with the arms or with a foot), but once away the sub must be able to move again.
- The force mouselook feature should not spam the user with "Go to mouselook or stay blind" messages anymore.
- Struggling when locked in just "Lock" should not trigger error messages anymore.
- When Autoref was off before unlocking a restraint, we couldn't turn it back on with the Anim HUD after relocking that restraint.
- When moving or turning, if Autoref is on the restraint will force an animation refresh immediately. This is to fight against couple animators that use priority 6 animations (I'm looking at you Abranimations).
- In the legs restraints, "Taut_w" was priority 5 for the whole body, which would break non-RR arms restraints. That animation has been changed now, arms are priority 3, legs are still priority 5.
Since the new Vixens are entirely new objects, if you want to update you have to replace your current ones.
To do this, go to one of these locations :
My Little Shop
Roper's Dark Playground
Attention, only the Vixens and gags are available in v1.30 yet, and if you do a soft update you will notice your restraints will remain v1.29.
Then click on the updater there, rez the update orb it gives you (do not use an old one as it might not identify your set and reject the update), start an update on your Vixens and request a replacement (choose "REPLACE" on the menu instead of "UPDATE"). The old set will be deactivated, i.e. emptied from its contents, and you will be given a new box. Do NOT decline it as it would destroy it instead of sending it to your Trash folder and you would have lost everything. And I wouldn't redeliver since it is no-copy/trans. So please go easy on that "decline" button.
Since the Vixens are actually three products in one (collar, arms, legs), you have to update each set separately. In other words, you'll have to do the above procedure for the collar, then once again for the arms, then once more for the legs.
Have fun !
PS : If you are interested in knowing more about the kind of work it took to upgrade those Vixens (hence why it wasn't done sooner), read on :
The original Vixens were made with sculpties, which I created in Blender. Although the objects are mesh in Blender, they had their own static topologies and UV maps, which were not very appropriate for mesh design. They were not optimized, their UV maps were rotated by 90° and were unfit for the use of more regular textures. So I had to optimize them, removing all the vertices I could, and redo the UV maps (that takes a while).
Since sculpties have only one "face" (you can set only one texture on a sculpty, unlike regular prims that have up to 10 faces), the trims were made by using shrunk versions of the same sculpties on each edge of each cuff. This was not looking too bad but not acceptable for nowaday's mesh, so I removed those trims and created faces on the bodies of the straps directly instead. The problem is that it completely changes the design : in the past the texture plugin would texture each prim independently, now it has to account for each face (one face is the main part, another is the front strap, another is the trim, another is the metal, etc) on the same prim. Problem is, you are limited to 8 faces per mesh, which may sound a lot but the Vixens need 9 or 10. Because of this, the "unlocked metal" parts show only when unlocked, not when simply locked without a pose. Those parts are the secondary rings on the cuffs, as well as the padlock u-shaped hooks and their cylinders. I wish I could show those flat rings when locked without a pose but I simply do not have enough faces for this.
The metal parts were not in Blender (to be exact they were, since the shadow map had to take them into account, but they were not uploaded as sculpts, I used prims instead), so I had to redo them entirely, in particular the buckles which were only halfway defined. It was ok at the time since the cuffs were opaque but now they can be made transparent so I could not "cheat" anymore, I had to design everything. Yes, 3D design is a lot of cheating until you deal with transparency >.>
The original padlocks were simply lost, I could not find them anywhere in my files, so I reused the Deluxe Gag ones, which look better especially with their "double circle" bump texture.
Since I wanted to provide baked lighting AND regular texture support, that meant I needed UV maps that were made for these straps, not the default ones that come with the sculpty templates. A lot of care has been brought to creating those UV maps and I must say, I'm pretty happy with the result. But this meant re-baking all of the textures since the original ones were not compatible with the new UV maps anymore. And that also meant keeping the exact same lights I used 6 years ago when desining the original Vixens. Except... that didn't work so well. For some reason, the edges appeared grey after baking (they didn't use to) so more lights were added, more testing was done... it took several days before I had textures that looked good.
The old texture plugin was absolutely not capable of handling materials so I started afresh from a copy of the StrapTex plugin of the Deluxe Straps to get the same layout, and redid the slave scripts almost entirely to handle baked textures, mirroring (a baked texture is naturally mirrored on a left wrist/elbow/ankle cuff, but regular textures have to be kept non-mirrored since some of them have writings), trim (luckily the "trim" surface uses the same textures as the "main" one... except on the collars), materials (not all surfaces use the same repeats and offsets)... there are a lot of special cases and that took quite a while to get it right.
The Text plugin could not work with the new curved mesh surfaces I use for the printing. In the past it would use 24 "pie-like" prims to display letters, each prim having a script in it (at the time of the design, 6 years ago, a script could not modify the texture of another prim in the same object without relying on a script inside that other prim, and I never bothered to redo this until now). Now it uses 4 curved prims with 8 faces each, very much like the ones I made for the Treadmill and Bubblizer, except curved.
All in all, this whole update took much longer than expected. But I feel this product, which is one of my best sellers, deserves that much attention.
PPS : They used to be called "Vixen Leather Training Set" but... now that they can display a lot more materials than just leather, it isn't very fitting anymore, right ? However, don't be surprised if the box is still named "Vixen Leather BOXED", this is just a precaution I'm taking with my sales server and updaters, not wanting to screw up with the update of the vendors. In time, that box will change name too.
PPPS : A big Thank You to all of you who tested the set before its release, it really helped !