Why Modifiable Content is Important

Anyone that has read past articles on this blog knows that I have a strong fondness for planes, cars and boats with modifiable builds (scripts excepted). My recent experience in painting three aircraft, coupled with recent posturing by one prominent aircraft maker (not on this site and I will not identify them publicly), have given me reason to double down on this stance.

Note: I hope to have a review out soon instead of another “why” column. That will follow shortly after a particular aircraft is released.

 

Discovery

With the release of the Porter PC-6 by Carly, it fell upon me to paint the airplane with the Vulture Air colors. This being my first experience at painting an airplane, there were a few learning curves to tackle. One of those lessons was that with a modifiable airplane, I was able to leverage my dual monitors, with Firestorm on one and Paint Shop Pro on the other. With that, I could apply a local texture to the airplane, modify that texture in Paint Shop Pro, and the results were immediately visible on the plane.

Had that plane been no modify, every change I made would have to be uploaded (10L down the tubes each time), inserted in the aircraft maker’s applier tool, and applied as a separate step. So one pixel out of alignment and I’m down another 10 lindens and a good 30 minutes.  A small amount by itself, but after several iterations with multiple faces, it adds up fast. It also multiplies the time it takes to paint the plane by several factors.

This scenario has been repeated twice now with a release of another aircraft, and pending release of yet another one. And why if a non-modifiable aircraft is released, someone else will have to paint it. I won’t touch it. Or buy it.

Experiences and Anecdotes

Blocking modify ability assumes a one size fits all approach can work in our global environment. It cannot. You can create a cargo plane full of boxes and only freight haulers that need planes full of generic boxes will be interested. You can leave it empty and make the pilot wear a lame, laggy wearable to have the “cargo” appear on the plane, only to crash at a sim crossing and have that wearable still stuck to your avatar.

Or you can do like Carly did and click on that little box that says “Modify” and the buyer can put what they want in the plane. That is why my cargo configured, non-modifiable plane has been permanently mothballed in favor of the modifiable cargo version of the PC-6.

An Anecdote

I recently discovered the S&W 429 Executive did not have a spotlight. As I happened to have an AS365 that had one. It took nothing more than pulling it off the 365 and attaching it to the 429. Nothing stolen – I have the rights to both. The copter did not disintegrate in an explosive self destruction. I just made a simple change and had exactly what I needed. Most users probably did not even care about that little detail.

Now some of you might be saying “but that’s not fair because S&W didn’t sell it with a spotlight”. And I say, General Motors didn’t sell my truck with a spotlight either but if i want one I can go down to Pep Boys and buy one and attach it.

Another Example

Many RP regions need beacons, combat scripts or other specialized additions to their vehicles. No-modify craft are useless to them.

The Real Reasons for No-Modify

Most creators claim they are doing no modify because modifiable content can be easily stolen. That was true in the prim days. In the days of mesh, that is pure monkey dung. You cannot edit a build and copy the sizes to steal a mesh.

Some creators also think (inaccurately) that textures can be stolen via scripts. That was in fact possible several years ago. Then one day, Linden Labs discovered the loophole, shut down all script capability grid wide for several  hours in a panic while they closed that loophole. So that argument doesn’t work anymore either.If you run a script now to try to get the UUID of a texture, it returns all zeros unless that texture is in your inventory.

It is all about control. A plane maker can deny a painter access to their closed texturing system if they don’t like that person or their work. At least one I know of would probably come unglued at the concept that their creations are not absolutely perfect and need something as minor as a spotlight or a specialized combat script added.

Final Thoughts

As more modern thinking, customer oriented creators join the list of creators that understand this, the harder it will be for the dinosaurs that cling religiously to that empty Modify check box to survive. Virtually every new creator entering the aviation community is clicking on that Modify check box.

It is a positive trend. Please, to all buyers that value this, please let it be known in appreciation to those creators that started out with modifiable creations, and to those that have come home from the dark side.

Blue Skies!

P.S. If you reviewed the above linked list and there is a name missing from it, please let me know. I have recently added a couple names and will add more as they are identified to make it a complete list.

5 thoughts on “Why Modifiable Content is Important

  1. I wouldn’t call every builder who doesn’t create full moddable content a “Dinosaur” after all some builders have good reasons for not wanting their models to be moddable, Others have stupid reasons, but Dinosaurs are cool.

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    1. Agreed. There are valid reasons for no-modify for certain types of objects. Even I do not release my airline pilot hud modifiable because modifying it at all is likely to break it. I equate such tools with things like wristwatches and radios that are tech devices that end users should not be modifying.

      Planes, boats and automobiles, however, do not fit in that category. If designed correctly, there is no good justification that I can think of to make them no modify. As this column is intended for discussion, however, I invite anyone to come up with a good reason why an airplane should be no modify.

      All a creator needs to do is insure that any prim dependent scripts rely on prim names, not link numbers in the build and clarify to the user what prim names have special meaning. Users must know never to change the root prim, and always take the object back into inventory and re-rez it after adding prims.

      If they break it, rez a fresh copy. Problem solved.

      I used the term “dinosaur” because as far as I know all but one of the more recent entrants into the community of aviation builders are allowing modify on their planes and some of the “legacy builders” such as Tig Spikers, Kelly Shergood and Cubey Terra either allowed modify from their beginning, or have evolved. No-Modify for vehicles IS slowly going the way of the dinosaur.

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      1. Actually I was reminded of one what I would call “semi-valid” reason, which applies only to combat aircraft. Some makers feel that they need no-modify to protect against cheating in the combat games.

        This has SOME validity. However, it has effectively condemned the combat community to the antiquated and unsupported VICE/TCS system. While some builders have attempted to build their own systems, they mostly remain proprietary, therefore cannot really take hold as a suitible replacement for VICE.

        Designing a combat system is a major undertaking and it is understandable why creators want some reward for it. But unless a suitable open-source replacement for VICE is built, or one that can be well adapted to both vehicles and avatars, the problem will continue.

        In any case, this argument is weak at best and does not apply to non-combat vehicles. The best solution would be for the builder to include two versions in their packages. One would be no-modify so that combat regions can restrict participation to those models.

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  2. Here, Here! I too only buy modifiable stuff in SL. I only wish automobile makers would adopt the same sentiment that you ask of Aircraft makers. My number one beef? building at an over-sized scale – if you let me mod it, I can make it right, If not, it is just another contribution to the mess of products that make it harder to build garages, roads, runways, airfields to something that looks less like a toy and more realistic. If you are a region owner, you will always be limited by the fact that a region is only 256 m x 256 m!

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